TRENTON – A state correction officer from Burlington County was arrested today on charges that he identified himself as a police officer in order to coerce prostitutes into having sex with him free of charge, Attorney General Jeffrey S. Chiesa announced.
Juan R. Stevens, 50, of Burlington City, a senior correction officer assigned to the Department of Correction’s Central Reception and Assignment Facility in Trenton, was arrested today by State Police detectives on charges of second-degree sexual assault and third-degree criminal restraint. The charges stem from an investigation by the New Jersey State Police Official Corruption Bureau South Unit and the Division of Criminal Justice Corruption Bureau. Stevens was charged by complaint and lodged in the Burlington County Jail with bail set at $200,000 by Superior Court Judge James W. Palmer Jr.
Stevens allegedly identified himself as a police officer to coerce at least four prostitutes into engaging in sexual acts with him for free or, in one instance, at a discount. Stevens, who used the name “Rick” or “Rich,” allegedly telephoned women who advertised their services online as adult escorts. He allegedly arranged for sexual encounters at hotels in Burlington County or Philadelphia. However, rather than paying the agreed price, he claimed to be a police officer, producing what appeared to be a law enforcement badge in most cases, so the women feared they would be arrested. He sometimes wore handcuffs hooked to the back of his pants.
“We allege that by posing as a police officer and coercing victims into having sex with him, this defendant committed serious crimes and betrayed the public’s trust, as well as the honor of the badge he does carry, that of a state correction officer,” said Chiesa. “We have zero tolerance for such corrupt conduct.”
“This correction officer allegedly used the same tactics on multiple occasions to intimidate prostitutes into having sex with him free of charge,” said Director Elie Honig of the Division of Criminal Justice. “This is an ongoing investigation, and we urge any other victims to contact us confidentially.”
The Division of Criminal Justice has a toll-free tipline 1-866-TIPS-4CJ for the public to report corruption and other crimes confidentially. The public can also log on to the Division of Criminal Justice webpage at www.njdcj.org to report suspected wrongdoing confidentially.
Stevens was charged in connection with an alleged incident on Feb. 24, 2012, at a hotel in Westampton. Stevens allegedly met the victim at the hotel, as arranged by phone, and agreed to pay $125 for 30 minutes of sex. Instead, however, he allegedly flashed a police-style badge, identified himself as a law enforcement officer, and said he was conducting a prostitution sting. He allegedly uttered the command “stand down” into a cell phone, which appeared to have a walkie-talkie feature. He then allegedly began to fondle the woman, who believed she was about to be arrested, telling her they could work it out. Stevens allegedly had sexual intercourse with the woman and left without paying her. That incident was reported to the Westampton Police Department.
Further investigation identified at least three additional women who allegedly were similarly coerced into either performing oral sex on Stevens or having sexual intercourse with him under threat of arrest. In September 2011, a woman who advertised her services as an adult escort allegedly was called by Stevens and met him at a residence in Philadelphia. Once they met, Stevens allegedly produced a badge and stated he was a police officer. However, he allegedly told the woman he would let her go if she performed oral sex on him. She allegedly complied.
It is alleged that in January 2012, Stevens telephoned an “adult escort” and offered $300 for her to meet him at a motel in Maple Shade for sex. Upon entering the motel room, Stevens allegedly produced a badge and identified himself as a police officer. He allegedly demanded to see the woman’s identification, which he examined. He allegedly requested oral sex from the woman, who complied because she allegedly feared arrest and knew that Stevens knew her home address from her identification. He allegedly directed her to meet him on two additional occasions in February and March of 2012, when he allegedly again coerced her into performing oral sex on him free of charge. Stevens allegedly wore handcuffs on the back of his pants on all three of those occasions.
In July 2012, Stevens allegedly telephoned a woman who advertised her services as an adult escort and agreed to meet her at a motel in Maple Shade. Stevens allegedly agreed to pay $160 for sexual intercourse, but in the motel room, he 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.
Second-degree crimes carry a sentence of five to 10 years in state prison and a fine of up to $150,000, while third-degree crimes carry a sentence of three to five years in state prison and a fine of up to $15,000.
The complaint filed against Stevens is merely an accusation and he is presumed innocent until proven guilty. Because the charges are indictable offenses, they will be presented to a state grand jury for potential indictment.
Detective Erick Goncalves and Detective Anthony Carugno led the investigation for the New Jersey State Police Official Corruption Bureau South Unit. Deputy Attorney General Victor R. Salgado is handling the investigation and prosecuting the case for the Division of Criminal Justice Corruption Bureau. The investigation was conducted with assistance from the Department of Corrections Special Investigations Division and the Westampton Police Department.
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