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New charges against NJ correction officer who authorities say got off without paying prostitutes

Photo Credit: Cliffview Pilot File Photo
Photo Credit: Cliffview Pilot

BEYOND BERGEN: DNA evidnce has lead to a new charge against a New Jersey State correction officer accused of identifying himself as a police officer in order to coerce prostitutes into having free sex with him.

Juan R. Stevens surrendered to authorities today — the first time a hit from a New Jersey database of all persons arrested for violent crimes produced charges against one. He remained free on $200,000 after being processed, they said.

Stevens, 50, had been entered into the Combined DNA Index System (CODIS) under New Jersey’s new law — which took effect Feb. 1 — requiring DNA sampling of all persons arrested for violent crimes, including sexual assault, following his previous arrest last month.

“This DNA hit, which enabled us to solve an open case, highlights the importance of our new law mandating testing of those arrested for violent crimes,”state Attorney General Jeffrey S. Chiesa said.

“Experience teaches us that violent criminals, including sex offenders, often commit multiple crimes, as this defendant allegedly did,” Chiesa added. “The new law will help us lock up repeat offenders and protect the public.”

Authorities last month said Stevens called prostitutes who offered their services only and met them at hotels in South Jersey and Philadelphia,.

After using the name “Rick” or Rich”to get sex, Stevens “produced what appeared to be a law enforcement badge … so the women feared they would be arrested,” , Chiesa said, adding that he “sometimes wore handcuffs hooked to the back of his pants,” as well.

Stevens got off without paying at least four of them — and, in one instance, got a discount, he said.

“Threats of arrest for personal gain – whether by an impostor, or an actual police officer – undermine the work of all law enforcement,” said New Jersey State Police Superintendent Col. Rick Fuentes, whose department made the match.

Stevens, who remains suspended from his job at the Department of Correction’s Central Reception and Assignment Facility in Trenton, was charged that day with second-degree sexual assault and third-degree criminal restraint.

In both instances, the charges stem from work by the NJSP Official Corruption Bureau South Unit and the Division of Criminal Justice Corruption Bureau.

Authorities became aware of what was happening a little over two months ago, Chiesa said: In that case, Stevens met a hooker at a hotel, agreed to pay $125 for 30 minutes of sex, then flashed the phony badge and barked “stand down” into a cellphone as if he were communicating, walkie-talkie-style, authorities said.

He then “began to fondle the woman, who believed she was about to be arrested, telling her they could work it out,” Chiesa alleged.

Intercourse followed, Stevens left without paying — and the woman went straight to local police, the attorney general said.

State investigators said they then uncovered a string of similar incidents dating back to September 2011.

In one case, Stevens telephoned an “adult escort” and offered $300 for her to meet him at a motel in Maple Shade for sex, Chiesa said. After demanding to see the woman’s identification, he coerced her into sex under fear of arrest — he added. Aware that he now had her address, she agreed to meet him twice more — including in early February.

Stevens “wore handcuffs on the back of his pants on all three of those occasions,” Chiesa said.

The cut rate came last July, he said: Stevens at first agreed to pay $160 but then “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.”

The latest charge stems from a May 23, 2011 incident that Chiesa said occurred at a motel in Mansfield in Burlington County.

Stevens went to the room “wearing a blue uniform, which appeared to have handcuffs hanging from the back of the pants, and stated that he was a police officer who was sent to talk to her about prostitution and drug activity at the motel,” Chiesa said.

Once inside, he “displayed a police-type badge and ordered her to take her clothes off,” the attorney general said. “The victim allegedly told him she would rather be arrested than have sex with him.

“However, Stevens allegedly took his own clothes off, lay on the bed, and again demanded that she undress,” then “pulled her onto the bed,” he said.

Afraid she’d be harmed, she engaged in sex, Chiesa said.

Stevens then “threw $15 at her and left the motel,” he said.

The woman notified police and was taken to an area hospital, where DNA evidence was taken. State Police recently turned up the match, Chiesa said.

“This DNA match brings new evidence that the defendant was a serial sex offender who allegedly preyed on women by identifying himself as a police officer and coercing them into sexual acts,” said Director Elie Honig of the Division of Criminal Justice. “We urge any victims to contact us.”

The number: 1-866-TIPS-4CJ

Futnes said the New Jersey’s hihgly successful CODIS database contains DNA profiles from more than 250,000 convicted offenders and more than  16,500 DNA profiles from crime scene evidence.

So far, it has generated more than 7,200 hits solving crimes that would not have been possible without DNA technology, he said.

“The recent offender law will enhance the power of CODIS by solving additional crimes following arrests instead of after convictions,” Chiesa added.

According to the Office of the NJ Attorney General: 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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