Christie's shoplifting bodyguard has wrist slapped

The New Jersey State trooper was caught stealing $267 in gun supplies.

Gov. Chris Christie makes his way down to the Assembly Chambers to give the State of the State Address at the Statehouse in Trenton, N.J. on Tuesday, Jan. 8, 2013.

A New Jersey State Police bodyguard to Gov. Chris Christie is getting off with a slap on the wrist – and no criminal record – in a Pennsylvania shoplifting case.

William Carvounis made national headlines two months ago when New Jersey Watchdog broke the story of his shoplifting spree at Cabela’s in Hamburg, PA.

The 36-year-old state trooper was caught stealing $267 in gun supplies and other merchandise by store surveillance video. Since his arrest, Carvounis has been suspended from his duty on the security team attached to Christie.

Carvounis escaped prosecution when a Berks County judge allowed him to enter a special pre-trial intervention program known as Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition.

Instead of facing a conviction and up to five years in prison, Carvounis will pay a $150 fine plus restitution and costs, according to court records. He cannot set foot in any Cabela’s store and must pay $100 to attend a “STOPLIFT” rehabilitation class.

The charges against Carvounis are to be expunged from the record upon his completion of the ARD program.

At the time of his arrest in January, the trooper unsuccessfully pleaded with local police and the retailer to drop the matter out of “professional courtesy,” sources said.

“Carvounis said he was on the governor’s security detail,” Tilden Township Police Chief William J. McEllroy told New Jersey Watchdog. “He said he makes $140,000 a year, and he’s afraid of losing his job.”

New Jersey pays Carvounis a base salary of $95,198 a year – plus roughly $16,000 for meals, uniform cleaning and other allowances, according to a state payroll database. That does not include his overtime pay, exempt from public disclosure by state regulation.

Carvounis’ shoplifting episode was recorded by surveillance cameras in Cabela’s 250,000 square-foot showroom, as detailed in an affidavit of Patrolman Dennis Schwoyer obtained by New Jersey Watchdog.

“During the course of his shopping, (Carvounis) would place items in his shopping basket. While walking around and continuing to shop, he would take various merchandise out of the package and conceal in his pockets…He would discard the empty packages on shelves throughout the store,” wrote Schwoyer in his sworn statement.

Security video also caught Carvounis’ coup de grace: The trooper tore the price tag from a Cabela’s hat, which he wore while trying to leave the store.

When Carvounis was apprehended and searched, authorities found a concealed weapon along with the pilfered loot. They soon discovered their suspect was a New Jersey State Police trooper. 

The New Jersey Watchdog is a public interest journalism project dedicated to promoting open, transparent, and accountable state government by reporting on the activities of agencies, bureaucracies, and politicians in New Jersey. It is funded by the Franklin Center for Government and Public Integrity, a libertarian nonprofit organization.