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Former Bordentown Police Chief Found Guilty Of Lying To FBI In Alleged Hate Crime Assault Of Handcuffed Teen

CAMDEN, N.J. (CBS) -- A federal jury has ruled a former Bordentown police chief is guilty of lying to the FBI. The verdict comes on the sixth day of deliberations on a federal hate crime assault case.

The judge has spoken but there's still work ahead for the jury.

Frank Nucera was found guilty of lying to the FBI, but the jury must still decide on other charges.

Meanwhile, legal experts say a jury deliberating for six days is highly unusual in a trial that is now in its third week.

Nucera worked as a law enforcement officer for 30 years. But now he's on the other side of the law, convicted of lying to the FBI in the investigation into the hate crime assault of a black teenager.

Authorities say the teen was found swimming in a pool at the Ramada Hotel in Bordentown without having purchased a room in 2016.

When police arrived, they handcuffed the teen. But when Nucera got to the scene for backup, he allegedly slammed the teen's head into a doorjam and began punching him.

An 11-page criminal complaint also shows Nucera repeatedly used racial slurs during his 10 years as Bordentown's police chief.

During his trial at the Federal Courthouse in Camden, Nucera's attorney admitted Nucera's language was inappropriate, but he also argued it was not a crime.

Still, federal prosecutors maintain Nucera's racist outbursts suggest the teen's head slamming was racially motivated.

"I've never had a jury out that long," attorney Gregg Zeff said.

Zeff is an attorney for the NAACP of New Jersey. He says the jury is likely taking its time because they understand the importance of the case and want to get the right verdict.

"Very, very difficult to convict a police officer," Zeff said. "Most police officers get the benefit of the doubt from jurors because of the work they do."

But many people in Bordentown see the hate crime assault as a black and white issue.

"He needs to be held accountable, absolutely," Ed Crawley said.

"Don't be surprised by what a jury does. They are the sound and voice of our community but they're unpredictable. You don't know what those people can bring to the table," Zeff said.

Nucera faces up to 20 years in prison and stands to lose his $8,800 monthly pension. He is expected to be sentenced for lying to the FBI in February.

The jury must now decide on the hate crime assault count and the excessive force count. On Thursday, the jury will continue deliberating or will tell the judge that they're deadlocked.

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