Bergen County Sheriff Michael Saudino resigned on Friday after he was caught on the tapes making the disparaging comments to his colleagues earlier this year
A New Jersey sheriff has resigned after he was caught on a secret recording making racist remarks about blacks and alleging the state’s first Sikh attorney general got his job only because of ‘the turban’.
Bergen County Sheriff Michael Saudino was caught on the tapes making the disparaging comments to his colleagues.
The recordings were from January 16 but released by NPR affiliate WNYC on Thursday.
A spokesman for the sheriff announced his resignation on Friday, along with the resignations of four undersheriffs.
Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy and others had called for Saudino to step down after the tapes emerged.
The tapes caught Saudino describing Murphy’s gubernatorial inauguration speech, which he attended, to several colleagues.
‘He talked about the whole thing, the marijuana, sanctuary state,’ Saudino said in the tapes.
‘Christ almighty, in other words let the blacks come in, do whatever the f**k they want, smoke their marijuana, do this, do that, and don’t worry about it. You know, we’ll tie the hands of cops.’
New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy (above) called for Saudino to resign after the secret recordings from January 16 were released
He was apparently describing the moment in the speech when Murphy, also a Democrat, said: ‘A stronger and fairer New Jersey embraces comprehensive criminal justice reform – including a process to legalize marijuana … and protects our hardworking immigrant families.’
The men heard in the tape then shoot the bull about the state’s new Attorney General Gurbir Grewal, who is Sikh.
‘He didn’t do that because of Bergen County; he did that because of the turban,’ Saudino allegedly said. ‘He talked about how his cabinet already is so diverse.’
Grewal at the time had been Bergen County’s prosecutor. Grewal said that the remarks heard in the tape were ‘inconsistent with the Mike Saudino I knew and worked with in Bergen County.’
The tapes also include inflammatory remarks about Lieutenant Governor Sheila Oliver.
‘Is she gay? Because she’s never been married,’ Saudino allegedly asked the others in the room about Oliver.
The tape appears to reveal Saudino speculating that Attorney General Gurbir Grewal was appointed ‘because of the turban’ and asking if Lt. Gov. Sheila Oliver is gay
Saudino and Grewal knew each other well from Grewal’s time as Bergen County Prosecutor. The are pictured together above
After hearing the remarks, Governor Murphy called on Saudino to resign.
‘Without question, the comments made on that recording are appalling, and anyone using racist, homophobic, and hateful language is unfit for public office,’ Murphy told WNYC in a statement.
‘If indeed that is Sheriff Saudino’s voice on the recording, he must resign.’
Saudino apologized for the comments Thursday evening but at the time didn’t say he would resign.
Prior to his resignation, activists said they would hold a rally and march at the county courthouse and jail to demand that Saudino step down.
Bergen County, which is just across the Hudson River from Manhattan and the Bronx, is New Jersey’s most populous county.
The Bergen County Sheriff’s Office employs more than 600 people, and is responsible for assisting municipal police departments, patrolling county roads and the courthouse, and operating the county jail.