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NJ correction officer faces 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  pleaded guilty today to posing as a police officer in order to coerce four prostitutes into having free or cut-rate sex with him.

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, must forfeit his state job and will be permanently barred from public employment in New Jersey, Acting Attorney General John Hoffman said this morning. 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.”

Stevens surrendered to authorities in April 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.

“This DNA hit, which enabled us to solve an open case, highlights the importance of our new law mandating testing of those arrested for violent crimes,”then-Attorney General Jeffrey S. Chiesa said at the time.

“Experience teaches us that violent criminals, including sex offenders, often commit multiple crimes, as this defendant allegedly did,” Chiesa added.

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 … so the women feared they would be arrested,” Chiesa said at the time, adding that he “sometimes wore handcuffs hooked to the back of his pants,” as well.

Stevens got off without paying at least four of them — and, in one instance, got a discount, he 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 earlier this 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, 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, he 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 in early February.

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.”

The more recent 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,” Chiesa said.

Once inside, he “displayed a police-type badge and ordered her to take her clothes off,” the 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,” he said.

Afraid she’d be harmed, she engaged in sex, Chiesa said.

Stevens then “threw $15 at her and left the motel,” he said.

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

“This DNA match brings new evidence that the defendant was a serial sex offender who allegedly preyed on women by identifying himself as a police officer and coercing them into sexual acts,” said Director Elie Honig of the Division of Criminal Justice. “We urge any victims to contact us.”

The number: 1-866-TIPS-4CJ

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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