Cop in Pulitzer-Winning ‘Tainted Justice’ Series Gets Job Back

Jeffrey Cujdik, implicated in the Daily News "Tainted Justice" series and fired in May, was reinstated to the police force by an arbitrator.

Jeffrey Cujdik has his job back.

Cujdik is one of the Philadelphia narcotics officers implicated in the Daily News’s Pulitzer Prize-winning “Tainted Justice” series. No charges were brought against Cujdik or any of the cops written about in the series; the Inquirer wrote a scathing piece on the series. (Our own Joel Mathis wasn’t quite convinced.)

But Police Commissioner Charles Ramsay fired Cujdik in May despite prosecutors’ decision not to file charges. Now, an arbitrator has reinstated Cujdik, though he won’t return to narcotics and won’t get back pay. A 30-day suspension will remain on his record.

“He doesn’t want to go back to narcotics, not that I blame him,” FOP president John McNesby said.

Cujdik was fired for falsifying an arrest warrant and developing a business relationship with an informant. Police Commissioner Ramsey called Cujdik’s reinstatement “disappointing.” Fraternal Order of Police lawyer Thomas Jennings told the Inquirer he argued the allegations against Cujdik were suspect because the witnesses have a history of criminal activity.

After the Daily News series, three officers were suspended and transferred off narcotics, and a supervisor was suspended. The newspaper has vigorously defended its series, including a column today by Ronnie Polaneczky:

At least Cujdik, investigated by police internal affairs for falsifying search warrants and crossing the line with an informant, won’t be getting back pay for the time he has missed since he was canned last May. So the city – already out $1.7 million to settle 33 lawsuits resulting from raids by Cujdik and his rogue narcotics squad – won’t be cutting another miserable check.

Talk about cold comfort.

Cujdik joins a repellant club of officers whose reinstatements shock the conscience and mock the character of thousands of men and women in the Philadelphia Police Department who’d rather look for a new line of work then betray the trust we put in the badges they wear.

Cujdik will be back on the job shortly, per the FOP. It’s not clear where he will be assigned.

[Inquirer | Daily News | Polaneczky’s Column]