NORTH BERGEN, NJ — State and local PBA leaders are stepping up to defend a North Bergen detective who was unfairly attacked by NBC News reporter Jonathan Dienst.
The Dienst report that aired on WNBC TV accused Detective Mark Francin of criminal voter fraud and associated him with possible tax and insurance fraud – none of which is even remotely true.
Police are particularly upset that Dienst and his NBC News producer David Paredes used Francin as a “poster boy” for an alleged ongoing voter fraud scheme — and deliberately left out the fact that Francin hasn’t voted anywhere since 2014.
“We are shocked and outraged by the false and defamatory charges leveled against Detective Mark Francin by NBC News reporter Jonathan Dienst,” said North Bergen PBA President James Vangelakos. “To accuse this fine officer of criminal behavior in relation to a voter fraud scheme when he hasn’t voted at all in five years is ridiculous. There is absolutely no basis for associating Mark with crimes like insurance or tax fraud. We call on NBC news to apologize and stop smearing a good police officer who is just doing his job.”
New Jersey State PBA President Pat Colligan also issued a statement defending Francin:
“Detective Mark Francin is a dedicated police officer who puts his life on the line every day to keep his community safe and we would ask that he not have his name attached to dubious allegations that lack credibility such as these. The allegations being made against Detective Francin are not supported by public record and the fact that his reputation is being questioned in the face of all available evidence because of the word of anonymous sources is a truly sad state of affairs.”
Colligan is referring to a masked and anonymous figure in the NBC report who falsely alleges a massive voter fraud scheme involving local police, educators and other municipal employees.
“Dienst and Paredes almost always use these hooded, secret figures who make outrageous charges that are completely false,” said North Bergen Township Spokesman Paul Swibinski. “It’s now clear that Paredes is biased and working with the political opposition in the township, despite his breathless denials. No responsible journalist would have deliberately left out the fact that Detective Francin isn’t even a voter anymore.”
Swibinski says he believes that Dienst and Paredes use these hooded figures with disguised voices to create a false impression that local residents won’t identify themselves because they are afraid. “The truth is that the people wearing these silly hoods are political opponents and Paredes is part of this scheme to mislead the public.”
PBA officials are also upset because Detective Francin has young children who are being attacked on social media and are constantly being asked if their father is going to be arrested. “It’s terrible to see Mark’s family forced to watch his reputation being dragged through the mud by this irresponsible media report,” Vangelakos said.
“As members of the law enforcement community, we will always stand together against unnamed attackers to defend our members’ reputations,” Colligan added.