MIDDLE TWP. — A suspended Cape May County Prosecutor's Office detective has been indicted on charges that he initiated and carried out what amounted to an unauthorized investigation into a relative's car accident in a store parking lot.

Neither a release from the New Jersey Office of the Attorney General on Monday nor the text of the indictment itself indicated the exact date the accident took place or what relation the person in the crash has to Detective Sgt. Robert Harkins Jr., 49, of Wildwood Crest.

In December 2019 and January 2020, Harkins is alleged to have opened an investigation "specifically to identify the driver of the other vehicle, who left the scene without exchanging information," the release said.

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The OAG classified the scope of the accident as "minor."

With regard to Harkins' investigation, the state's Office of Public Integrity and Accountability's Corruption Bureau said he failed to officially record his actions in the CMCPO system, in order to avoid review by his superiors, and also allegedly subpoenaed the store outside which the accident occurred, used his connections to request official information in New Jersey and Pennsylvania, and submitted a 10-page report to the Middle Township Police Department.

That department reported Harkins' alleged actions to his office, which in turn notified state authorities.

Harkins was initially charged in the case in May 2021, and the indictment obtained Monday charges him with second-degree official misconduct, third-degree tampering with public records or information, and fourth-degree falsifying or tampering with records.

The most serious charge carries a sentence of five to 10 years in state prison, including five years of mandatory parole ineligibility, and a maximum fine of $150,000.

Patrick Lavery is New Jersey 101.5's afternoon news anchor. Follow him on Twitter @plavery1015 or email patrick.lavery@townsquaremedia.com.

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