New Jersey Parole Officer Jorge Ortega was arrested Friday on theft by deception charges. According to prosecutors Ortega, 41, changed the labels on high value items at a Target store on Tonnelle Avenue in North Bergen several times between July and October of this year. He would then proceed to the checkout stand with the high value items. When cashiers scanned the items they charged Ortega lower prices because the price tags on them were for different cheaper items.
We are not sure how Ortega was caught or if he had any accomplices. Our best guess is that someone noticed a discrepancy after he left the store one day, alerted security, reviewed footage, and noticed a man fitting his description purchasing a low value item that was never sold around the time that a high value item went missing. They probably called the cops and watched him like a hawk every time he entered the store. Then they probably caught him on camera switching a label, taking the high value item to the cashier, and being billed for a cheaper item. Again, we don't know how he was caught but when the truth comes out we think it will probably be as we just guessed.
We are not sure why Ortega chose to engage in "ticket switch fraud" while gainfully employed as a parole officer by the state of New Jersey. Maybe he had more in common with his clients than a mutual disrespect for the law. We think he probably supervised someone that went to prison for switching labels and realized how easy it would be for him to do the same thing. That or maybe he overheard someone that works in loss prevention talk about having trouble busting label switchers. Maybe it was something darker. Was Ortega in bed with his clients? Were these clients mobsters, drug dealers, and prostitutes? They probably were. It wouldn't surprise us if he owed money to such people and resorted to retail theft to pay off those debts.
Are we stretching things by suggesting that this busted criminal parole officer may have been dirtier than his recent arrest proves? We don't think so because he is human. As long as man's laws are enforced by man we will never see such a thing as a trustworthy law enforcement officer. All humans are subject to the same temptations and desires. Some don't find out that they lack the willpower to resist those temptations until they are in a position of authority and by that time they care more about maintaining their status than they do for society. That is because nobody really cares more about others than they do about themselves and anyone that claims not to is a liar. Everyone is a sinner, some are just better at hiding their sins. People that work in law enforcement are just as flawed as everyone else.
This case is being prosecuted by Esther Suarez of the Hudson County Prosecutors Office.