the staff of the Ridgewood blog
Trenton NJ, A New Jersey state trooper was indicted today for allegedly conducting improper stops of two female drivers for the purpose of pressuring them to begin a personal relationship with him. The trooper allegedly falsified records to cover up his actions.
The Division of Criminal Justice Corruption Bureau today obtained a six-count state grand jury indictment charging Trooper Eric Richardson, 32, of Camden, N.J., with the following offenses:
Official Misconduct (2nd degree),
Criminal Coercion (3rd degree),
Tampering with Public Records or Information (3rd degree),
Falsifying or Tampering with Records (4th degree),
Wrongful Access/Disclosure of Information (2nd degree), and
Obtaining Information from a Motor Vehicle Record (4th degree).
Richardson was investigated by the New Jersey State Police Office of Professional Standards, which uncovered incidents involving two women whom Richardson allegedly pulled over and harassed about initiating an intimate relationship. He allegedly stopped each woman repeatedly and deactivated the dashboard camera in his car during some of the stops.
Richardson initially pulled over the first woman on Nov. 22, 2016, warning her that her windows were illegally tinted. Although her registration was expired, Richardson allegedly attempted to win favor with her by not towing the vehicle and letting her drive away. He allegedly followed her, however, and activated his lights to stop her a second time. He then allegedly pressured her to give him a phone number, persisting even after she said she was in a relationship. Later, Richardson sent numerous texts to the woman using the number he obtained. On Jan. 3, 2017, Richardson allegedly pulled the woman over again in Atlantic City. He allegedly falsely reported in the official computer dispatch log that he stopped to aid a motorist, when in fact he allegedly stopped the woman to ask if she still had the same number and was receiving his texts.
On Dec. 23, 2016, Richardson allegedly pulled over the second woman in Gloucester Township and threatened to arrest her if she did not give him her phone number. This is the basis for the criminal coercion charge. He allegedly pulled out his handcuffs and threatened to handcuff her. The woman’s license and registration were suspended, and there was a warrant for her arrest. After obtaining her phone number, Richardson released her, despite the active warrant. He allegedly told dispatchers and reported in the dispatch log that the driver he stopped on that occasion was a man. He allegedly communicated with the second woman via texts using the phone number he obtained.
The charges of wrongful access/disclosure of information and obtaining information from a motor vehicle record relate to an incident on May 8, 2017 when Richardson allegedly illegally accessed the FBI—Criminal Justice Information Services database on behalf of a male friend to do a “driver inquiry” on a woman the friend employed to determine if her driver history reflected any warrants or drug activity. Richardson allegedly photographed her driver history and texted it to his friend.
“Police are given great authority and are rightly held to the highest standards of integrity,” said Attorney General Grewal. “When officers abuse their authority, as alleged in this case, they must be held accountable. Public trust and public safety demand it.”
“We allege that the defendant used his authority as a police officer to harass two women and he then falsified official records to cover up his misconduct,” said Director Elie Honig of the Division of Criminal Justice. “These are serious charges.”
Richardson was suspended by the New Jersey State Police after being charged by complaint in this case on May 31, 2017. He remains suspended.
Second-degree charges carry a sentence of five to 10 years in state prison and a fine of up to $150,000, while third-degree charges carry a sentence of three to five years in state prison and a fine of up to $15,000. Fourth degree charges carry a sentence of up to 18 months in state prison and a fine of up to $10,000.
The charges are merely accusations and the defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty.