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Senior Correctional Officer at Northern State Prison Indicted on Multiple Charges


By: Richard L. Smith 

The NJ Office of Public Integrity and Accountability (OPIA) and Attorney General Matthew J. Platkin have announced that a state grand jury has voted to file criminal charges against a senior corrections officer at Northern State Prison.

AdThe charges stem from allegations that the officer, Werner Gramajo, engaged in a months-long contraband smuggling arrangement with a particular inmate in exchange for regular bribe payments.

The grand jury, at the conclusion of its deliberations, returned a "true bill" on all five counts in the indictment.

This decision signifies that charges should be filed against Gramajo, a 46-year-old resident of Newark, New Jersey, who served as a senior correctional officer at the Newark-based prison.

The investigation conducted by OPIA's Corruption Bureau unveiled a disturbing pattern of contraband smuggling orchestrated by Gramajo.

He allegedly provided the inmate with a wide range of illicit items, including cash, jewelry, eyeglasses, clothing, cold cuts, cologne, stamps, and other foods. In return, Gramajo received cash payments on a monthly basis as compensation for supplying the contraband.

Attorney General Platkin emphasized the seriousness of the allegations, stating, "Corrections officers are public servants, and the majority of them honor their oaths and serve as examples to their community and those under their care.

But when anyone supervising and overseeing a correctional facility is also engaged in a conspiracy with an inmate, facilitating and participating in illegal activity, they will be detected and prosecuted."

OPIA Executive Director Thomas Eicher added, "Bringing contraband into a correctional institution undermines the security of the institution, threatening the corrections officers and the residents.

The grand jury determined that Gramajo violated his duties for money."

The investigation into this matter was initiated after the New Jersey Department of Corrections (NJDOC) Special Investigation Division uncovered evidence of contraband smuggling within an officer-controlled, secure area of a housing wing at Northern State Prison on January 4, 2021.

Following this discovery, Gramajo authored a "special custody report" to the NJDOC, in which he allegedly made false statements, claiming that he had only smuggled contraband once in an attempt to deceive the NJDOC about his involvement with the prisoner. In the report, Gramajo admitted to smuggling cold cuts to the inmate but denied smuggling other items and any monetary exchange.

An extensive OPIA investigation followed, revealing a long-running arrangement between Gramajo and the inmate that had been ongoing from December 2019 until January 2021. Allegedly, contraband recovered in the inmate's cell was traced back to Gramajo.

The investigation also uncovered that Gramajo received regular payments of $500 for smuggling contraband into the prison and delivering various forms of institutional contraband.

As a result of these findings, Gramajo has been indicted on several charges, including:

1. Conspiracy (2nd Degree)

2. Official misconduct (2nd Degree)

3. Bribery in official or political matters (2nd Degree)

4. Acceptance or receipt of an unlawful benefit by a public servant for official behavior (2nd Degree)

5. Tampering with public records or information (3rd Degree)

AdSecond-degree charges carry a sentence of five to ten years in state prison and a fine of up to $150,000, while third-degree charges carry a sentence of three to five years in prison and a fine of up to $15,000.

The indictment marks a significant step in addressing the alleged misconduct of a corrections officer and underscores New Jersey's commitment to upholding the integrity of the corrections system.