BEYOND BERGEN: A New Jersey State correction officer was arrested today on charges of identifying himself as a police officer in order to coerce prostitutes into having free sex with him.
Using the name “Rick” or Rich,” Juan R. Stevens called prostitutes who offered their services only and met them at hotels in South Jersey and Philadelphia, State Attorney General Jeffrey S. Chiesa said.
After getting what he wanted, Stevens “produced what appeared to be a law enforcement badge … so the women feared they would be arrested,” the attorney general said, adding that he “sometimes wore handcuffs hooked to the back of his pants,” as well.
Stevens, 50, got off without paying at least four of them — and, in one instance, got a discount, Chiesa said.
Stevens, a senior correction officer assigned to the Department of Correction’s Central Reception and Assignment Facility in Trenton, was arrested today by State Police detectives on charges of second-degree sexual assault and third-degree criminal restraint. He was being held on $200,000 bail in the Burlington County Jail.
The charges stem from an investigation by the New Jersey State Police Official Corruption Bureau South Unit and the Division of Criminal Justice Corruption Bureau.
Authorities became aware of what was happening a little over a month ago, Chiesa said: 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, authorities said.
He then “began to fondle the woman, who believed she was about to be arrested, telling her they could work it out,” Chiesa alleged.
Intercourse followed, Stevens left without paying — and the woman went straight to local police, the attorney general said.
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, Chiesa said.
After demanding to see the woman’s identification, he coerced her into sex under fear of arrest — he added.
Aware that he now had her address, she agreed to meet him twice more — including earlier this month.
Stevens “wore handcuffs on the back of his pants on all three of those occasions,” Chiesa said.
The cut rate came last July, he 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.”
Stevens “betrayed the public’s trust, as well as the honor of the badge he does carry,” Chiesa said.
State authorities urged anyone else who might have been victimized to confidentially contact them: 1-866-TIPS-4CJ
According to the Office of the NJ Attorney General: Detective Erick Goncalves and Detective Anthony Carugno led the investigation for the New Jersey State Police Official Corruption Bureau South Unit. Deputy Attorney General Victor R. Salgado is handling the investigation and prosecuting the case for the Division of Criminal Justice Corruption Bureau. The investigation was conducted with assistance from the Department of Corrections Special Investigations Division and the Westampton Police Department.
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