Bergen County Sheriff Michael Saudino resigns in wake of racist remarks

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Michael Saudino has resigned as sheriff of Bergen County, N.J.

In the wake of the revelation of the offensive comments that he made about blacks and marijuana and more, Bergen County Sheriff Michael Saudino resigned Friday under mounting pressure to do so.

His four top aides also walked out the door with him. Executive Undersheriff George Buono, Undersheriff Robert Colaneri, Undersheriff Brian Smith and Undersheriff Joseph Hornyak all resigned, too, according to the sheriff's office.

The controversy broke this week when WNYC radio obtained an audio recording of Saudino making racially charged comments about the newly inaugurated governor's policies on crime.

"He talked about the whole thing, the marijuana, sanctuary state... better criminal justice reform. Christ almighty, in other words, let the blacks come in, do whatever the [expletive] they want, smoke their marijuana, do this do that and don't worry about it," Saudino said after Phil Murphy's inauguration speech. "You know, we'll tie the hands of cops."

The recording also features Saudino saying that the governor appointed Gurbir Grewal, who is Sikh, as state attorney general because of "the turban."

"I have thick skin and I've been called far worse," Grewal said in a statement. "But the comments about the African-American community are wrong, racist and hurtful. New Jersey and Bergen County deserve better."

Grewel also said he was disappointed because he and Saudino worked closely together for two years when the former was the county prosecutor.

On Thursday, Saudino apologized for the remarks but said he would not resign.

The comments were "not representative of the person that I am and they are in no way consistent with the manner in which I have conducted my life personally and as a law enforcement professional with over 46 years of service to the residents of Bergen County," he said in a statement.

The Sheriff's Office said Friday that pending the governor's appointment of an interim sheriff, Sheriff's Office Chief Kevin Pell is now in charge of law enforcement operations and Sheriff's Office Warden Steve Ahrendt is overseeing the county jail's operations.