Edison police officers admit guilt in revenge plot

Michael Dotro is for allegedly firebombing a supervisor's house. ow/The Star-Ledger)

Michael Dotro at the Middlesex County Superior Courthouse in New Brunswick when he was arraigned on Thursday, 5 23, 2013 for charges of attempted murder and arson. Dotro pleaded guilty Friday to unrelated charges.

Four Edison police officers pleaded guilty Friday to charges arising out of an investigation in which they planned to retaliate against a North Brunswick police officer who had arrested citing someone close to the cop gang’s ring leader on a drunk-driving charge in 2012.

The guilty pleas were entered in New Brunswick by Officer Michael A. Dotro, 39, of Manalapan, Officer Brian Favretto, 41, of Brick, and Officer Victor E. Aravena, 45, and Sgt. William H. Gesell, 48, both of Edison.

Each of the officers faces a probationary term, will forfeit their jobs and must never again hold public jobs in New Jersey when they are sentenced on January 13, 2017 in New Brunswick.

Jury selection was underway to try the defendants when they reached the plea agreements with Assistant Prosecutor Russell Curley, said Middlesex County Prosecutor Andrew C. Carey.

Dotro, who still faces charges in two unrelated cases, pleaded guilty to a count of conspiracy, admitting he sought retaliation against the North Brunswick police officer who had ticketed another individual for drunk driving.

Favretto pleaded guilty to a count of obstruction of the administration of law, admitting he tried to intervene in the drunk-driving case.

Gesell pleaded guilty to tampering with pubic records, admitting that he accessed computer records on the North Brunswick officer. Aravena pleaded guilty to a count of obstruction of the administration of law, saying he passed along the computer records to Dotro to assist with the retaliation.

An investigation by the Middlesex County Prosecutor’s Office determined that no actual retaliation had taken place, however the former officers were intent of engaging in other illegal acts.

In separate cases that are pending, Dotro is charged with slashing the tires of a car owned by an Edison woman, having prohibited devices, possession of an imitation firearm and carrying brass knuckles, an imitation weapon, a small club known as a black jack, a small quantity of marijuana, and a device used to smoke marijuana, all of which were discovered in his police duty bag on May 23, 2013.

In another case, he is accused of attempted murder and other charges for setting fire to the home of an Edison police captain, while the captain and relatives were asleep inside.

Dotro was charged with aggravated arson and five counts of attempted murder for allegedly setting the fire on Capt. Mark Anderko’s front porch on May 20, 2013. Anderko had transferred Dotro and ordered the 14-year police veteran with a long disciplinary history to undergo a psychological exam.

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