file photo Boyd Loving
State Trooper Pleads Guilty to Charges He Tampered With Evidence and Records to Cover Up Improper Stops of Female Motorists
the staff of the Ridgewood blog
TRENTON NJ, A New Jersey state trooper pleaded guilty today to criminal charges that he tampered with evidence and falsified records to cover up the fact that he conducted improper stops of female drivers in order to view the private contents of their cell phones and proposition them to meet him socially.
Marquice Prather, 38, of Linden, N.J., pleaded guilty today to charges of third-degree invasion of privacy, fourth-degree tampering with physical evidence, and fourth-degree falsifying or tampering with records before Superior Court Judge Benjamin S. Bucca in Middlesex County. Under the plea agreement, Prather must forfeit his job as a state trooper and will be permanently barred from public office or employment. The state will recommend that Prather be sentenced to a term of probation. Prather has been suspended without pay by the State Police since his arrest on Dec. 9, 2016.
Deputy Attorneys General Brian Faulk, Jonathan Gilmore and Charles Wright took the guilty plea for the Division of Criminal Justice Corruption Bureau. Prather is scheduled to be sentenced on Dec. 8.
The New Jersey State Police Office of Professional Standards investigated numerous incidents involving Prather that reflected a pattern of pulling over women, ranging in age from 18 to 42, and soliciting them to go on a date with him or give him their phone numbers. The investigation revealed the following conduct, for which he pleaded guilty to the three charges:
Prather requested and searched the cell phones of numerous female drivers without justification, after asking the women to unlock the phones. He looked through personal information and images on the phones and, in some cases, reproduced intimate photos and videos of the women.
Prather disposed of suspected marijuana that he seized from the vehicle of a female motorist.
Prather falsely reported the gender of drivers he pulled over to disguise the fact that he stopped a high number of females.
Several women initially came forward to file complaints against Prather about improper conduct. A number of other women subsequently gave statements outlining similar conduct after they were contacted by investigators who were auditing Prather’s patrol activities.