A New Jersey state trooper plead guilty on Monday to records tampering and charges of invasion of privacy after an internal investigation was launched to look into concerns that he was conducting unlawful traffic stops in order to pull over women and ask them out. 38-year-old Marquice Prather later tampered with police records to cover up the fact he was using his badge and authority over these women in order to intimidate them to go out with him.
Initially suspended without pay back in December, under a plea deal, Prather has had to give up his job as a trooper is now barred from public employment in New Jersey.
As reported by NJ.com:
Marquice Prather, 38, pleaded guilty to charges of invasion of privacy and evidence and records tampering in front of Judge Benjamin S. Bucca in Middlesex County.
The fired trooper’s attorney, Melvin Wright, disputed the state’s characterization of the plea, saying his client denied “pulling over (women) for the purposes of trying to get dates.”
Prather was suspended without pay in December after internal investigators uncovered “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,” according to the state Attorney General’s Office.
Authorities said Prather admitted searching the cell phones of several female drivers “without justification,” rifling through their electronic personal data. In some cases, authorities said, Prather “reproduced intimate photos and videos of the women.”
Wright argued his client pulled over the women for legitimate traffic violations and obtained their cell phones because they stored their insurance information electronically. In some cases, Wright said, the women had nude photographs on the phones, which Prather improperly obtained while searching them and forwarded the images to a friend.
Wright said his client regretted his behavior.
“He has certainly matured exponentially from this experience,” he said.
Prather also admitted getting rid of suspected marijuana he had seized from the vehicle of a woman in one of the cases, and to falsely reporting the gender of drivers he pulled over to hide that a disproportionate number of them were women, according to the attorney general.
Under a plea deal, Prather must give up his job as a trooper and is barred from public employment in New Jersey, according to the state Division of Criminal Justice, which handled the case.
Prather is scheduled for sentencing on Dec. 8. The state will recommend that he receive a term of probation.
Prather was one of two troopers accused of similar behavior on New Jersey highways in a six month period.
Charges against the second trooper, Eric Richardson, are still pending. Authorities say the two cases are not connected.
Prather was entrusted to serve and protect the community, but instead he exploited it by abusing his authority. While he claims to have reformed and regrets his actions, he cannot take away the shame and violation he imposed on his victims when he violated their privacy.
For his crimes, do you think 8 months probation is sufficient given his position of authority? Let us know what you think I. the comment section below.
(Article by Tasha Sharifa)