Plea Deal Lets Indicted Jail Officer Go Back To Work

ELIZABETH – One of two Union County corrections officers who was under indictment for allegedly assaulting an inmate last year went back to work last week after agreeing to act as a witness against the other officer.

Sgt. Eric Williams signed a statement before Superior Court Judge Joseph Donohue stating that he witnessed Officer Alvin White punch Edwin Reyes and break the inmate’s jaw on July 15, 2008. In the plea deal, Williams admitted that he also slapped Reyes and did not notify his supervisors about the incident.

Williams had been charged with two counts of second-degree misconduct, which carries a mandatory minimum five-year prison sentence if he had been convicted, according to his attorney.

Plea deals generally require that the officer charged with misconduct forfeit his or her job. The prosecutor’s office waived that provision in Williams’ case because he agreed to give the statement against White.

“Each case has its own facts and circumstances,” Romankow said in a statement. “For his actions, Officer Williams received a 180-day suspension and a demotion. He has also agreed to full and total cooperation in what we allege is the more egregious act of his co-defendant.”

White is still awaiting trial on charges of aggravated assault and official misconduct.

Lt. James Rinaldo, president of the Policemen’s Benevolent Association for superior officers at the jail, said he hopes the officers learn from this experience and “in the future, due to additional training and better judgment, incidents like these won’t happen again.”

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