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NJ correction officer gets 5 years for scaring prostitutes into free sex

Photo Credit: Courtesy NJ ATTORNEY GENERAL’S OFFICE

YOU READ IT HERE FIRST: A New Jersey State correction officer must serve at least two years in prison for posing as a police officer in order to coerce four prostitutes into having free or cut-rate sex with him, following his sentencing this morning.

Under an agreement with the state, Juan R. Stevens pleaded guilty to official misconduct in return for prosecutors’ recommendation that he be sentenced to five years in prison — including two before he’s eligible for parole. They also dropped several charges against him.

Stevens, 51, of Burlington Township, also forfeits his state job and is permanently barred from public employment in New Jersey, Acting Attorney General John Hoffman. He previously had been suspended pending the outcome of the case.

A 25-count state grand jury indictment returned in July accused Stevens of a pattern of official misconduct and four counts each of official misconduct, sexual assault, criminal restraint, coercion, extortion and impersonating a law enforcement officer.

Hoffman called the actions “a complete betrayal of the trust placed in him as a public servant.”

“By abusing his badge to commit these abhorrent and offensive crimes, this correction officer proved that he has no business in our state prisons — except as a prisoner,” Hoffman said.

Stevens surrendered to authorities in April of last year after a DNA match was found from a New Jersey database of all persons arrested for violent crimes. It was the first time the state filed charges as a result of a hit against a suspect whose DNA was taken under a 2011 New Jersey law that requires the samples.

He remained free on $200,000 bail ( SEE: New charges against NJ correction officer who authorities say got off without paying prostitutes ), then was indicted ( SEE: Indictment: NJ correction officer frightened four prostitutes into free sex ).

Stevens had been entered into the Combined DNA Index System (CODIS) under the law requiring DNA sampling of all persons arrested for violent crimes, including sexual assault, following his previous arrest in March.

Authorities in March said Stevens called prostitutes who offered their services only and met them at hotels in South Jersey and Philadelphia,.

After using the name “Rick” or Rich”to get sex, Stevens produced what appeared to be a law enforcement badge, frightening the women into thinking they’d be arrested. He sometimes wore handcuffs hooked to the back of his pants, as well, state authorities said at the time.

Stevens got off without paying at least four of them — and, in one instance, got a discount, they said.

“Threats of arrest for personal gain – whether by an impostor, or an actual police officer – undermine the work of all law enforcement,” said New Jersey State Police Superintendent Col. Rick Fuentes, whose department made the match.

Stevens was charged that day with second-degree sexual assault and third-degree criminal restraint.

In both instances, the charges stem from work by the NJSP Official Corruption Bureau South Unit and the Division of Criminal Justice Corruption Bureau.

Authorities became aware of what was happening early last year: In that case, Stevens met a hooker at a hotel, agreed to pay $125 for 30 minutes of sex, then flashed the phony badge and barked “stand down” into a cellphone as if he were communicating, walkie-talkie-style, they said.

He then began to fondle the woman, who believed she was about to be arrested, telling her they could work it out, they said.

Intercourse followed, Stevens left without paying — and the woman went straight to local police.

State investigators said they then uncovered a string of similar incidents dating back to September 2011.

In one case, Stevens telephoned an “adult escort” and offered $300 for her to meet him at a motel in Maple Shade for sex, authorities said. After demanding to see the woman’s identification, he coerced her into sex under fear of arrest — they added. Aware that he now had her address, she agreed to meet him twice more — including in early February.

The cut rate came in July 2012, authorities said: Stevens at first agreed to pay $160 but then claimed to be a police officer and demanded a discounted price. The woman allegedly had sex with him, fearing arrest, and he allegedly paid her $100, they said.

Another charge stemmed from a May 23, 2011 incident that Chiesa said occurred at a motel in Mansfield in Burlington County.

Stevens went to the room wearing a blue uniform, which appeared to have handcuffs hanging from the back of the pants, and stated that he was a police officer who was sent to talk to her about prostitution and drug activity at the motel, investigators said.

Once inside, he displayed a police-type badge and ordered her to take her clothes off, they attorney general said. The victim allegedly told him she would rather be arrested than have sex with him.

However, Stevens allegedly took his own clothes off, lay on the bed, and again demanded that she undress, then pulled her onto the bed.

Afraid she’d be harmed, she engaged in sex, authorities said. Stevens then “threw $15 at her” and left the motel, they said.

The woman notified police and was taken to an area hospital, where DNA evidence was taken. State Police then turned up the match.

Fuentes said the New Jersey’s highly successful CODIS database contains DNA profiles from more than 250,000 convicted offenders and more than 16,500 DNA profiles from crime scene evidence. It has generated thousands of hits, solving crimes that would not have been possible without DNA technology, he said.

According to the Office of the NJ Attorney General: Deputy Attorneys General Victor R. Salgado and Valerie R. Butler prosecuted the case and took the guilty plea for the Division of Criminal Justice Corruption Bureau. The case was investigated by the New Jersey State Police and the Division of Criminal Justice, with assistance from the Department of Corrections, the Mansfield Police Department, and the Westampton Police Department.

MUGSHOT: Courtesy NJ ATTORNEY GENERAL’S OFFICE

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