N.J. trooper in Christie's detail accused of shoplifting

Posted: February 05, 2014

A New Jersey state trooper in Gov. Christie's security detail has been charged in Berks County on two counts of retail theft.

William Carvounis, 36, is accused of stealing $267 worth of ammo clips, gun grips, and other gear from a Cabela's sporting goods store north of Reading on Jan. 8.

Then, when that news broke on Monday, Tilden Township Police Chief William McEllroy told news outlets that Carvounis asked for a break after his arrest, mentioning that he worked for Christie.

"He said he makes $140,000 a year and he's afraid of losing his job," McEllroy told the website New Jersey Watchdog. McEllroy also said: "We don't give preferential treatment when someone breaks the law."

Reached by The Inquirer, McEllroy backed off his statement that Carvounis asked for special treatment.

"Yes, I did tell the other newspapers those things, but at this point I can no longer confirm that," McEllroy said. McEllroy added that he was not denying his initial allegations either.

Carvounis' attorney, Charles Sciarra, told The Inquirer that Carvounis denies he shoplifted or asked for special treatment.

Sciarra said the police reports and affidavit filed against Carvounis lacked any mention of the trooper's having asked for special treatment. He added that Carvounis faces counts involving retail theft, not of an officer trying to use his badge to avoid arrest.

McEllroy agreed that public court documents do not say Carvounis sought special treatment. He said the trooper would face no charges beyond the current counts. He also said Carvounis' attorney would be "satisfied" of the special-treatment allegation once he received all the relevant paperwork.

Sciarra said he was unsatisfied with that claim after reading police incident reports.

"Why, 31/2 weeks later, these new facts are alleged is a question I'll just leave hanging for your readers," Sciarra said.

Referring to the political scandal surrounding Gov. Christie, Sciarra added: "We do not see Trooper Carvounis in any way, shape or form as part of the larger narrative playing out in New Jersey."

Carvounis was suspended without pay Jan. 13, said State Police Capt. Stephen Jones.

Carvounis, who lives in North Brunswick, has worked for the New Jersey State Police for 11 years, about five of them on the executive protection bureau.

Jones said Carvounis' responsibilities included transporting government officials by car, although not necessarily the governor.

"It would be a great exaggeration to call him [Christie's] bodyguard," Jones said.

Carvounis had a base salary of around $95,198. After his arrest last month, he was released on his own recognizance.


bfinley@phillynews.com

610-313-8118 @Ben_Finley

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