A code enforcement officer assigned to watch over the late-night crowd in Patchogue Village sexually victimized two women on separate occasions, officials said Thursday.
Dennis Fajardo, 28, of Brentwood, was in uniform and on duty when he took the women into his marked village vehicle and had unlawful sexual contact with them, the officials said.
“There’s a certain level of trust that the public has in a uniformed person in a marked vehicle and he betrayed that,” Suffolk Chief of Detectives Gerard Gigante said at a news conference.
But Judge Gaetan Lozito appeared to cast doubt on the case against Fajardo, saying at his arraignment that she was “troubled by the fact that there is no actual identification of this defendant” by the accusers.
Fajardo was released on his own recognizance at his arraignment at First District Court in Central Islip, where he pleaded not guilty to charges of sexual misconduct in one case and forcible touching in the other.
Lozito issued stay away orders on behalf of both accusers.
Harry Tilis of Bohemia, Fajardo’s attorney, noted the judge’s comments in an interview after the arraignment.
“The confidential statement does not identify this gentleman by name, and you heard the court indicate its concern about the weakness of any identification,” Tilis said.
The Suffolk County district attorney’s office did not respond to a request for comment Thursday.
Fajardo, a part-time employee hired in July, worked an 11 p.m. to 7 a.m. weekend shift in the busy downtown area, officials said. He was suspended without pay after an investigation that started when a woman made a complaint last weekend to village officials and Suffolk police, Patchogue Mayor Paul V. Pontieri Jr. said.
Detectives from the major case unit said Fajardo was in uniform when he picked up a 35-year-old woman on Main Street around 4:30 a.m. on April 16, drove her around, then parked and engaged in sexual contact.
Another woman, aged 24, reported a similar story after being picked up on Main Street around 4 a.m. Sunday by a uniformed man in a marked village code enforcement vehicle, police said.
In each case the woman “left an establishment” by themselves, Police Commissioner Geraldine Hart said at Thursday’s news conference.
Pontieri said the women had just left either a bar or a restaurant.
Fajardo did not know either woman, Hart said.
“In one instance he offered to drive the individual to their car and in the other instance he offered to drive them home,” she said.
Fajardo was fired on Thursday, Pontieri said.
Pontieri said Fajardo was highly recommended for the job by other officers and had a clean record when he was hired.
The village checks references for part-time public safety officers, but they are not subject to the rigorous background checks required for police officers, Pontieri said.
Anyone else who may have been victimized can report it to any police precinct or the major case squad at 631-852-6555, police said.
With Ellen Yan