A state probation officer was sentenced Friday to serve three years in a New Jersey state prison for accepting bribes to protect a man who continued using illicit drugs while serving a probationary term for drug offenses.
Rhonda Battle, 48, of Roselle was sentenced to the term and was ordered to serve at least two years in custody before she can be eligible for parole.
In addition, Battle will forfeit public employment and will be forever banned from holding a public job in New Jersey.
The sentence was imposed by Superior Court Judge John M. Deitch in Elizabeth. The case previously had been moved from Middlesex County in order to avoid the appearance of a conflict.
Battle was sentenced after she pleaded guilty on April 10, 2017 to a count of official misconduct, admitting she accepted money to keep the client’s name off a random drug-testing list, knowing he would test positive for drug abuse.
She told the court during the plea hearing that she took 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.
The sentence was imposed in accordance with a plea agreement reached with Middlesex County Assistant Prosecutor Christine D’Elia.
Battle was charged during an investigation by Detective Nicholas Chiorello of the Middlesex County Prosecutor’s Office.
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.
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.
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