Probation officer charged in bribery case

A state probation officer living in Union County and working in Middlesex County was taken into custody today on charges of accepting bribes from a client who was serving a probationary term for drug offenses.

Rhonda Battle, 46, of Roselle was charged with official misconduct and bribery, both third degree offenses, for taking an undisclosed amount of cash on various occasions between January 1, 2014 and December 23, 2014, said Middlesex County Prosecutor Andrew C. Carey.

Battle is being held on $20,000 bail set in New Brunswick by Superior Court Judge Bradley Ferencz, who said the defendant may be released after posting 10 percent of the amount.

Battle was charged during an investigation by Detective Nicholas Chiorello of the Middlesex County Prosecutor’s Office. The investigation determined that Battle accepted cash amounts to ensure the client passed drug testing and would not be found in violation of the conditions of a court-ordered probationary term.

Battle had been employed as a probation officer and was assigned to work with clients who had been admitted to the state Superior Court’s Drug Court program at the Middlesex County Courthouse in New Brunswick.

As an alternative to incarceration, the program offers counseling, rehabilitation and probationary terms to first-time offenders.

Prosecutor Carey said the criminal justice system cannot properly function without the public’s confidence. “It is incumbent upon the Middlesex County Prosecutor’s Office to help maintain the integrity of the Drug Court, which offers a viable means of addressing the problems of addiction,” Carey said.

“The program will only continue to be successful if those who help administer it remain above reproach.”

The investigation is active and is continuing. Anyone with information is asked to call Detective Chiorello of the Middlesex County Prosecutor’s Office at (732) 745-3848.

As is the case with all criminal defendants, the charges against Battle are merely accusations and she is presumed innocent until proven guilty.

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