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NJ Sheriff Michael Saudino Allegedly Caught On Tape Making Racist Remarks

Saudino, right, at an event in July.
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Saudino, right, at an event in July. Bergen County's Sheriff's Office

Bergen County Sheriff Michael Saudino has reportedly been caught on tape recapping New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy's inauguration speech in derogatory, racist terms. The audio, which WNYC obtained Wednesday night, prompted Murphy to ask for Saudino's resignation, pending confirmation that the voice on the recording is his.

On the tape, Saudino allegedly goes after Attorney General Gurbir Grewal, the country's first Sikh AG, attributing his election to "the turban." He also spends some time on a portion of Murphy's speech discussing marijuana legalization, which the state is poised to enact:

"He talked about the whole thing, the marijuana, sanctuary state...better criminal justice reform," the voice, which a "source in the room" told WNYC belongs to Saudino, says. "Christ almighty, in other words let the blacks come in, do whatever the fuck they want, smoke their marijuana, do this do that, and don't worry about it. You know, we'll tie the hands of cops." (To be clear, research shows that people of all races use marijuana at more or less the same rates.)

The recording below contains the turban reference:

That wasn't all Saudino had to say, though. The man in the recording goes on to praise a government aide's "cute" and "good-looking" daughters, and to wonder if New Jersey's Lt. Gov. Sheila Oliver is gay, "because she's never been married."

In a statement to WNYC, Oliver called Saudino "ignorant" and "a relic of an era gone by." Murphy, meanwhile, called the comments "appalling."

"Anyone using racist, homophobic, and hateful language is unfit for public office," he said. "If indeed that is Sheriff Saudino's voice on the recording, he must resign." Saudino, who oversees roughly 600 people, is currently serving his third term, and up for reelection in November 2019.

Saudino, meanwhile, did not respond to the station's request for comment. The allegedly damning audio comes in the wake of a WNYC report from last week, alleging that immigrants whom ICE has detained at the Bergen County Jail are barred from physical contact with their loved ones. Responding to those allegations, Saudino pointed to the potential for contraband exchange. "We just don't want that headache in here," he said. "It's compromising the safety of my officers, and I'll have no part of that." Non-immigrant jail occupants are not subject to the same ban on "contact visits."

On Thursday, Grewal stated on Twitter that he had listened to the recording, and echoed Murphy's conditional call for the sheriff's resignation. "The comments about our African-American community are wrong, racist, and hurtful," he wrote. "The comments about our Lieutenant Governor are inappropriate and homophobic. New Jersey and Bergen County deserve better."

Speaking to WNYC, Grewal—who has been working with Saudino for years—said: "You may expect it from people who don't know you, and don't know your credentials, and don't know how hard you work in this space, and what you've done in this space and what you've accomplished...that's the disappointing part it, to hear from someone who knows first-hand what I've done."

Read more on WNYC.

UPDATE: Bergen County Sheriff Michael Saudino announced his resignation on Friday, one day after he was caught on tape making racist and homophobic remarks. Four other undersheriffs—George Buono, Robert Colaneri, Brian Smith, and Joseph Hornyak—submitted their resignations as well. You can read more at WNYC.

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