|TRENTON – Acting Attorney General John J. Hoffman announced that a former state correction officer from Burlington County was sentenced to prison today for impersonating a law enforcement officer to coerce prostitutes into having sex with him.
Juan R. Stevens, 51, of Burlington Township, a former senior correction officer, was sentenced to five years in prison, including two years of parole ineligibility, by Superior Court Judge Jeanne T. Covert in Burlington County. Stevens pleaded guilty on Oct. 17 to a charge of official misconduct. He forfeited his state job as a result of the plea and is permanently barred from public employment in New Jersey.
Deputy Attorneys General Victor R. Salgado and Valerie R. Butler prosecuted the case and handled the sentencing 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.
“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,” said Acting Attorney General Hoffman.
“There is always an added danger when a law enforcement officer commits a crime and abuses the public trust he has been given,” said Director Elie Honig of the Division of Criminal Justice. “We have made it a priority to root out law enforcement officers gone bad.”
“Everyone who proudly wears a uniform and a badge is glad to see justice being carried out for these cowardly acts of intimidation,” said Colonel Rick Fuentes, Superintendent of the New Jersey State Police.
In pleading guilty, Stevens admitted that he used equipment issued to him as a correction officer, including his badge, to impersonate a law enforcement officer and coerce prostitutes into performing oral sex or having sexual intercourse with him free of charge or for a reduced charge. The state investigation revealed that between May 2011 and July 2012, Stevens impersonated a law enforcement officer in order to coerce four women into having sex at hotels or motels in Burlington County. In each case, he allegedly identified himself as a law enforcement officer and displayed what appeared to be a law enforcement badge so the victim feared she would be arrested.
Stevens was arrested in March by the State Police in connection with incidents involving three prostitutes who said they were coerced into having sex with him free of charge or at a discount at locations in Westampton and Maple Shade. After his arrest, a DNA match resulted in him being charged with using similar tactics to coerce a fourth woman into having sex in May 2011 at a motel in Mansfield. That victim alerted police and DNA evidence was taken. It was the first time charges were filed as a result of a new state law, signed by Governor Christie, that requires DNA sampling of all persons arrested for violent crimes.
Detectives Erick Goncalves and Anthony Carugno investigated the case for the New Jersey State Police Official Corruption Bureau South Unit. Detective Daniel Ehnstrom of the Mansfield Police Department investigated the incident in Mansfield with the State Police. The investigation was conducted with assistance from the Department of Corrections Special Investigations Division and the Westampton Police Department.
After his initial arrest by the State Police on March 21, Stevens was suspended without pay from his job at the New Jersey Department of Corrections’ Central Reception and Assignment Facility in Trenton.