Acting Attorney General Andrew J. Bruck announced that a New Jersey state trooper has pleaded guilty to a criminal charge related to an incident in which he stalked a female motorist in his patrol vehicle while on duty.
According to the Attorney General's office, Trooper Michael Patterson, 30, of Bayonne, pleaded guilty yesterday to a charge of fourth-degree tampering with public records before Superior Court Judge Andrea Carter in Middlesex County.
In pleading guilty, Patterson admitted that he purposely disabled the Digital In-Vehicle Recorder (DIVR) in his troop car to prevent it from capturing a motor vehicle stop he conducted so that he could make advances on the female motorist during the incident in question.
The Attorney General's office said that under the plea agreement, the state will recommend that Patterson be sentenced to 12 months in state prison without the possibility of parole.
Patterson must forfeit his position as a state trooper and will be permanently barred from public employment. Sentencing is scheduled for October 18.
According to the investigation, on January 28, Trooper Patterson conducted a motor vehicle stop of a female motorist on the New Jersey Turnpike at approximately 9:30 p.m.
The investigation found that Patterson let the woman go with a warning, but he conducted a second, unwarranted stop of her vehicle a few minutes later when she exited the Turnpike at Exit 11 in order to make advances on her. Patterson disabled the DIVR in his vehicle to prevent his conduct from being recorded during this stop.
The investigation revealed that Patterson subsequently put the victim in fear by following her to her home in his patrol vehicle.
“We are committed to holding law enforcement officers accountable when they abuse their positions of trust,” Acting Attorney General Bruck said.
“The New Jersey State Police expect the highest standards of conduct from their troopers, and the vast majority meet those standards each and every day. We owe it to the troopers, and to the public at large, to take strong action when individual officers betray those standards and engage in criminal conduct.”
“The New Jersey State Police holds its troopers to the highest level of professional standards of any law enforcement agency in the country through a robust system of checks and balances that is designed to not only hold its members accountable but to serve as a tool to provide training and counseling through early intervention,” Colonel Patrick J. Callahan, Superintendent of the New Jersey State Police said.
“The conduct revealed in this investigation stands in stark contrast to the core values of the New Jersey State Police and is a betrayal to the public and to the entire law enforcement community.”