Probation officer admits taking bribes

Middlesex County Prosecutor Andrew C. Carey announced that a state probation officer pleaded guilty yesterday to a charge of accepting bribes to protect a man who continued using illicit drugs while serving a probationary term for drug offenses.
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> Rhonda Battle, 48, of Roselle pleaded guilty to official misconduct, saying she accepted bribes, including a $400 payment on December 23, 2015 from the man who was assigned to regularly report to her as part of his probationary term.
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> Under a plea agreement reached with Middlesex County Assistant Prosecutor Christine D’Elia, the defendant is expected to serve three years in a New Jersey state prison with no chance of parole until two years are served in custody.
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> In addition, Battle will forfeit public employment and will be forever banned from holding a public job in New Jersey.
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> Battle admitted accepting the money to keep the client’s name off a random drug-testing list, knowing he would test positive for drug abuse.
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> The sentencing will be held on June 16, 2017 before Superior Court Judge John M. Deitch in Elizabeth.

The case was moved from Middlesex County by a Superior Court judge in Middlesex County.
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> Battle was charged during an investigation by Detective Nicholas Chiorello of the Middlesex County Prosecutor’s Office.
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The investigation determined that Battle accepted bribes between Jan. 1, 2014 and Dec. 31, 2014 to ensure her client passed drug testing and would not be found in violation of the conditions of his court-ordered probationary term.
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> 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.
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> As an alternative to incarceration, the program offers counseling, rehabilitation and probationary terms to first-time offenders.


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