Waterfront Detective's Cheating Heart

A Waterfront Commission detective who wanted to be a contender went down for three counts today - of perjury.

James Sutera, 28, was arrested by the Manhattan District Attorney's office and charged with lying to New York State's Inspector General about how he came to get the highest score in the agency's history on a routine qualifying application.

The bistate commission, which is charged with keeping wiseguys off the docks, has been the target of an ongoing corruption probe since a pair of whistle-blowing former chiefs at the troubled agency told state officials about corruption and cronyism there two years ago. As the Voice reported this month, Sutera got his job as a detective with the backing of former New Jersey commissioner Michael Madonna, and after twice flunking the qualifying exam. Sutera, of Woodland Park, N.J., took the test a third time after Madonna demanded a copy of the test. The next time he took it, Sutera scored a 98 - the highest ever.

A year later, Sutera allegedly offered to do the same favor for another detective-wannabe, a generous offer that raised a few questions. Sutera is to be arraigned this afternoon.

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