Camden officer admits role in plot to have wife shoot him and retire early

Jeffrey Frett , 40, was a sergeant who served about 15 years.
Jeffrey Frett , 40, was a sergeant who served about 15 years.
Posted: May 12, 2011

Their plan was simple. She would shoot her husband, who is a police officer, and make a clean getaway. Before long, the Turnersville couple could retire.

Things got complicated, however, when a plainclothes officer saw too much and quickly apprehended the female "suspect."

Former Camden Police Sgt. Jeffrey Frett, 40, pleaded guilty Wednesday to a disorderly-persons offense for staging his own botched shooting.

Had the scam succeeded, Frett could have applied for a lucrative pension for police officers injured in the line of duty. Instead, Frett - who served about 15 years on the force - found himself on the wrong side of an intense investigation.

On Nov. 30, according to authorities, Frett pulled his police cruiser to the side of I-676 and was talking with his wife, who had driven to meet him in a dark-colored van.

The plainclothes officer, passing by, slowed to see whether Frett needed help. When all appeared in order, he kept going without Frett's noticing him.

The officer hadn't gone far when Frett's distraught voice crackled over the radio. A gunman had shot at him and fled on 676 in a dark-colored van, Frett said.

"Obviously, all units are going to respond to something like that," Camden County Prosecutor Warren Faulk said.

The plainclothes officer pulled over and waited.

The van rolled by.

Its driver - Frett's wife - was apprehended.

Imagine Frett's surprise when he learned that his accomplice was in custody. He tried to persuade his fellow officers that they had the wrong person.

And imagine the surprise of Camden police when they discovered that Frett had been shot by his wife, authorities said.

Later, officials said they learned that Frett had persuaded his wife to shoot him while he was on duty but not seriously hurt him. She tried to comply, but her aim was off: The only thing injured was a leg of Frett's pants.

Frett's wife was not identified in court. Authorities would not say why she had not been charged.

On Wednesday, Frett appeared before Superior Court Judge Thomas Brown in Camden, where he agreed to surrender his job, and was placed on probation for a year and issued fines and costs exceeding $150.

"I'm truly sorry," Frett said, his voice barely audible.

"He's very regretful for this incident and he wants to move on with his life for his wife and children," said Brian Jacobs, Frett's attorney.

Neither Frett nor Jacobs would elaborate on the incident.

Officers injured in the line of duty collect more than 66 percent of their pension tax-free for life, authorities said.

Camden County Assistant Prosecutor Mark Chase said the disorderly-persons plea was accepted to guarantee that Frett would not remain on the force.

"Our goal is to make sure this person does not continue to work as a police officer," Chase said.

A number of officers on Camden's force have faced criminal charges in the last year. Frett's case was particularly disturbing, Faulk said, because he had an otherwise clean record with the department.

Frett is among a group of officers who have filed lawsuits against the department, alleging a hostile work environment.

On Wednesday, Camden Chief Scott Thomson repeated his vow to rid the department of corruption, and noted the effects of Frett's plan.

"His actions selfishly jeopardized the lives of his brethren officers and the residents, as they rushed across the city to his rescue," Thomson said in a text message.


Contact staff writer Barbara Boyer at 856-779-3838 or bboyer@phillynews.com.

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