Most Charges Against Former Cop Dropped After Allegations Found to Be ‘Exaggerated’
NEW BEDFORD — A majority of the charges in a stalking and harassment case against a former New Bedford Police officer have been dropped after some of the claims were found to be "exaggerated," according to his lawyer.
Nine of the 12 counts against decorated former officer Joshua Fernandes, 42, of New Bedford were dismissed in New Bedford District Court on Monday morning.
The charges — which included stalking and harassment of his then-estranged wife in 2019 — caused him to be fired by the department that year.
He had also recently agreed to plead guilty to stealing nearly $50,000 in police union funds in a separate federal case.
The case centered around a May 2019 incident in which Fernandes allegedly tracked a minivan his then-estranged wife was using to a Seekonk pub parking lot before breaking into and vandalizing the vehicle.
He had allegedly used police resources at both the city and state police departments to extract information from his estranged wife's phone and to run a search on license plates he believed to belong to the man she was seeing.
Charges of motor vehicle larceny, breaking and entering into a motor vehicle, and malicious damage to a motor vehicle were dropped, as he owned the minivan.
Meanwhile many of the other charges involving stalking and harassment were dropped due to lack of evidence, as the defense provided information calling into question the credibility of the witness.
Fernandes' attorney Amy Valente said after Monday's hearing that certain text messages and videos showed that the complainant, who was the main witness, was not being entirely truthful.
"Some of the allegations had been exaggerated and we were able to prove that," she said. "I'm glad it's over for my client, so that he can move on and build his life from here."
Valente declined to provide the texts or videos in question, as she said they involved a third party.
For three of the charges, including misusing police resources, Fernandes did not plead guilty but agreed to one year of probation on the condition he continue with his counseling and abide by a restraining order held by his now ex-wife.
In 2007 Fernandes was awarded for bravery along with two fellow New Bedford police officers for their response to a shooting at the Foxy Lady strip club on Popes Island in which he was shot in the face.
Three were killed in the shooting, including the gunman, who took his own life.