THEODORE N. STEPHENS II APPOINTED ACTING ESSEX COUNTY PROSECUTOR: On Tuesday September 4, 2018, New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy appointed Theodore Stephens II to serve as the Acting Essex County Prosecutor. Acting Prosecutor Stephens will be formally nominated by the Governor to serve as Essex County Prosecutor, subject to confirmation by the state Senate.
“Today, I am proud to appoint Ted Stephens to serve as Acting Essex County Prosecutor,” said Governor Phil Murphy. “Ted has dedicated his life to public service, and his years of experience and knowledge will allow him to serve as a strong leader in this role. I look forward to working with Ted as he fulfills the mission of seeking justice for the people of New Jersey.”
“I am deeply honored to be given this opportunity to serve the people of Essex County as Prosecutor and am grateful to Governor Murphy for his confidence in appointing me to this critical role,” Stephens said. “I look forward to working with law enforcement and the community to ensure that the vital mission of promoting safety and justice in Essex County will be performed in accordance with the highest standards of integrity, excellence, and service.”
Acting Prosecutor Stephens had been sworn in as the Essex County Surrogate in 2012, where he presided over the Essex County Court. Prior to becoming Essex County Surrogate, he began his legal career as the Eastern Region Attorney for Unisys Corporation, followed by the role of Corporation Counsel for the City of East Orange.
The Acting Prosecutor began his judicial career in 1994 when he was appointed a judge of the East Orange Municipal Court. In 2004, he was then appointed to the bench of the City of Orange Township Municipal Court.
“Every day each of the twenty-one prosecutors appointed to serve as their individual county’s highest law enforcement officer is tasked with investigating crimes, prosecuting difficult and varied cases, and working with local police departments,” said New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal. “I would like to thank Acting Essex County Prosecutor Bob Laurino for his tireless service to the citizens of Essex County and I look forward to working with Ted Stephens as he takes on this critical role. Together we will work to strengthen the relationships between the police and the communities they serve, to reduce violent crime, and to fight the opioid crisis.”
FORMER ACTING ESSEX COUNTY PROSECUTOR LAURINO APPOINTED TO STATE TASK FORCE ON SEXUAL ABUSE BY CLERGY: On Thursday September 6, 2018, New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal announced the formation of a task force to investigate allegations of sexual abuse by members of the clergy within the Catholic dioceses of New Jersey, as well as any efforts to cover up such abuse. The Attorney General appointed former Acting Essex County Prosecutor Robert D. Laurino to head the task force. An experienced sex crimes prosecutor, Laurino will oversee a team of detectives and prosecutors from across the state’s County Prosecutor’s Offices and the NJ Division of Criminal Justice (DCJ), and will report directly to DCJ Director Veronica Allende. Attorney General Grewal has authorized the task force to present evidence to a state grand jury, including through the use of subpoenas to compel testimony and the production of documents, in addition to other investigative tools.
To help identify potential victims, Attorney General Grewal also has established a new dedicated hotline to report allegations of sexual abuse by members of the clergy. The hotline will be staffed by trained professionals and operate on a 24/7 basis. The toll-free number is 855-363-6548.
“I am extremely honored that the Attorney General would ask me to take on such an extraordinarily important investigation,” said Laurino. “Having been a special victims prosecutor for most of my professional career, I am prepared to do everything possible to give a voice to those who were abused. I hope that we will finally be able to give these individuals some degree of closure in their lives.”
Former Acting Prosecutor Laurino had been a member of the Essex County Prosecutors Office since 1980. He served as Acting Prosecutor from June 2017 until September 2018, and previously served as Acting Prosecutor from January 2010 to February 2011. Laurino has completed over 100 jury trials and has handled thousands of cases involving sexual violence. Laurino has served as a faculty member for the National District Attorneys Association, the New Jersey Attorney General’s Advocacy Institute, the New York Prosecutors Training Institute, and AEquitas: The Prosecutors’ Resource on Violence Against Women, where he has taught trial advocacy courses on matters concerning sexual assault, ethics, and DNA evidence. Laurino has published and continues to lecture nationally on issues involving sexual violence, forensic evidence, attorney ethics, and the abuse of individuals with disabilities.
A cum laude graduate of Villanova University, Laurino received a master’s degree from Rutgers University. Laurino graduated from Seton Hall University School of Law, where he was an editor of the law review.
COMMUNITY MEETINGS ON OPIOID CRISIS: On Wednesday, August 15, 2018, the Essex County Prosecutor’s Office held a community discussion of the Opioid Crisis and its effect on our county at the Glen Ridge Congregational Church, 195 Ridgewood Avenue (enter on Clark Street), Glen Ridge NJ. The meeting was held from 6:00 to 8:00 PM, and included representatives from ECPO, the County of Essex, RWJ Barnabas Health, the Alcohol & Drug Abuse Prevention Team of Essex, GCADA, and Integrity House. For more information on future meetings, please e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
NATIONAL PUBLIC RADIO REPORT ON ECPO PROSECUTION OF ABUSERS OF INDIVIDUALS WITH DISABILITIES: National Public Radio is running a series of reports regarding the abuse of individuals with disabilities, and a recent report featured former Acting Prosecutor Laurino and the ECPO Special Victims Unit. This report was heard on the NPR “All Things Considered” show, and a written version of it is now available on the NPR web site. The report highlights the ongoing prosecutorial efforts that ECPO is making in the area of victimization of individuals with disabilities. Acting Prosecutor Laurino extends his congratulations to the Special Victims Unit, and in particular to SVU DCAP Celeste Montesino, AP Kate Lyons-Boswick (who is featured in the NPR report and the web site article along with Prosecutor Laurino), and Captain Steve Roberts for the exceptional work that they continue to do.
2018 SUMMER INTERN PROGRAM: The ECPO Community Justice Unit plans to offer a five-week summer internship program beginning July 5, 2018 through August 3, 2018 for high school students completing their junior year by June 2018. Thirty students who reside in Essex County will be chosen for the 2018 program. Program activities include learning about the role and function of the Essex County Prosecutor’s Office; participating in New Jersey State Trooper Youth Week, a one week residential program; observing a jury trial and participating in a mock trial; working with a local law enforcement agency; and interfacing with the corporate and the community-based partners on the ECPO Community Justice Advisory Board. Throughout the summer internship program, interns will be exposed to various careers in law, law enforcement and government. Interns will also participate in cultural events.
Application Instructions and an Application Form can be viewed and downloaded using these links. Completed application packets MUST BE SENT BY MAIL and are due no later than March 16, 2018 to Nicole Graves Watson, Community Justice Coordinator, Office of the Essex County Prosecutor, 50 West Market Street, Third Floor, Newark, New Jersey 07102. NOTE: DUE DATE EXTENDED FROM MARCH 9 to MARCH 16 DUE TO RECENT INCLEMENT WEATHER. Recommendation letters should be included with your application. The application form and recommendation letters must be signed, and thus CANNOT be sent by fax or e-mail. Incomplete applications will not be considered. If you require additional information please feel free to contact Mrs. Watson at (973) 621-4317.
CRIMINAL JUSTICE BAIL REFORM: On January 1, 2017, the New Jersey Bail Reform/Speedy Trial law went into effect. As a result, New Jersey shifted from a system that relied primarily on setting monetary bail to a more objective risk-based system that is fairer towards those accused of crimes who, prior to this mandate, may not have been able to meet their bail obligation. This new law represents one of the most comprehensive changes to our criminal justice system in many years. The Essex County Prosecutor’s Office has spent many hours planning for this initiative and invested in several new information systems to facilitate the changes required by this initiative. We have also allocated additional staff and staffing hours to accommodate the increased workload needed to accommodate these changes.
ESSEX COUNTY PROSECUTOR’S OFFICE HOSTS SPRING AND AUTUMN 2018 CITIZENS & CLERGY ACADEMY: Former Acting Essex County Prosecutor Robert D. Laurino announced that the Essex County Prosecutor’s Office has completed its SPRING 2018 Citizens and Clergy Academy, a six-week training program for members of the Essex County community. The Citizens and Clergy Academy is a training program designed to familiarize clergy and other members of the Essex community with the day-to-day operations of the Essex County Prosecutor’s Office. Classes are usually held on Thursday evenings from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. for a period of 6 weeks.
“The goal of this training program, which is held two times a year, is to help members of the community better understand the work of the Essex County Prosecutor’s Office”, said former Acting Prosecutor Laurino. “During the classes we explain what we do here. We explain the services available to witnesses and victims. We walk participants through the legal process and generally help members of the clergy and other participants understand the role of the county prosecutor’s office.”
The Citizens Clergy Academy Classes are open to anyone 18 years old or older from Essex County. They are held at the Essex County Prosecutor’s Office, which is located at 50 West Market Street, 3rd Floor, Newark, NJ. A certificate will be awarded to each participant who successfully completes the course at the graduation ceremony. We expect that another Citizens and Clergy Academy will be held in Autumn 2018.
Anyone with questions regarding this program should contact Ms. Kimberly Jones at 973-621-1315
2017 SANCTUARY INTIMATE PARTNER VIOLENCE RESPONSE INITIATIVE: The Essex County Prosecutor’s Office Victim Witness Office has presented another round of its 2017 Sanctuary Initiative volunteer training to interested and qualified volunteers. This training is presented in two formats: BASIC and ADVANCED. The basic course (54 hours) began on October 24, 2017 and met at the Essex County Prosecutor’s Office located at 50 West Market Street, 3rd Floor in Newark (at the Essex County Veterans Courthouse Building). The advanced course (16 hours) will begin in the Spring, 2018 on a date and time yet to be determined. Please note that you must complete the basic course or have completed no less than 40 hours of intimate partner violence training to attend the advanced course.
Sanctuary is an intensive, interactive 70 hour training program designed to provide crisis intervention services to intimate partner violence related assault, sexual assault, child abuse victims as well as survivors of intimate partner violence-related homicide victims. The course is presented in two formats: basic and advanced. Upon completion of the basic course (54 hours) and the advanced course (16 hours) volunteers who are members of local churches, mosques, synagogues, municipal police departments and their response teams, social service and emergency agencies, fraternal organizations, and other allied organizations located in greater Essex County will be able to provide immediate, culturally sensitive outreach to intimate partner violence victims-survivors and their families within a 24-72 hour period.
Both Courses Are Offered Free of Charge. Again, we expect that the Advanced Sanctuary classes will be offered in the Spring of 2018; also, there may be another presentation of the Basic class later in 2018. For more information, please call 973-621-4689 or contact us by e-mail at EssexVW@njecpo.org.
V.I.N.E. Victim Notification Telephone Service Started: The State of New Jersey provides a toll-free telephone number through which victims can gain information about the current status and location of their offenders: 1-877-VINE-4-NJ (1-877-846-3465). Registration is necessary. Please consult the V.I.N.E. Web Site for more information.
VICTIM – WITNESS WEB PAGES REVISED: Acting Essex County Prosecutor Carolyn A. Murray announced that the Essex County Prosecutor’s Office has implemented an updated and expanded website focusing on the needs of crime victims. This site provides updated resource information for Essex County victims and witnesses, and presents it in an understandable, easy to read format based on color coding.
“Serving the needs of crime victims in this high-tech, fast-moving environment is a challenge. Sometimes victims need answers after regular work hours. The expanded ECPO Victim-Witness Services website provides new forums to help victims and their surviving family members. It allows them to get answers when they cannot pick up a phone and reach someone, ’’ said Acting Prosecutor Murray.
The Office’s new Victim Witness web site is accessible from this site (the main ECPO web site) by clicking on the “Victim-Witness Services” link in the blue area at left. The new Victim Witness site is also available via its own internet domain name, i.e. www.essexnjvictimwitness.org
2016 ANNUAL REPORT AVAILABLE: The 2016 ECPO Annual Report can be downloaded and viewed in PDF format, from this page. The 2017 Report is expected in late 2018.
Employees Honored: In 2017, Assistant Prosecutor Judith DeRosa and Legal Assistant Narvin Singh received the Essex County Teamwork Award from Essex County Executive Joseph N. DiVincenzo, Jr. Other ECPO employees who received this Award are: In May, 2016, Keyboarding Clerk Vamona DeLoatch; in 2015, Detective Sergeant Robert Parsons, Assistant Prosecutor Magdalen Czykier, Assistant Prosecutor Director Romesh Sukhdeo, Receptionist Inell Shorts; in 2014, Assistant Prosecutor Kathleen Ternovay and Detective Sergeant Michael Davidson , Record Room Supervisor Martine Cosby; in 2013, Homicide Unit Deputy Chief Michael DeMaio, Steno Clerk Lisa Pedalino, Assistant Prosecutor Sara Friedman and Detective Lieutenant John Cunha; in 2012, Clerk Typist Marilyn Crespo, SANE-SART Program Coordinator Alecia Seery and Supervisory Clerk Debora Roachford; in 2011, Legal Assistant Robert Monaco; Victim Witness Advocate Jason Delpeche; Photo Media Processor Lloyd Holmes; Prosecutor’s Agent James Hunter; in 2010, Media Technology Specialist Brian Innis Assistant Prosecutor Kenneth Ply and Senior Program Analyst James Gerofsky; in 2009, Joanne Barone, Principal Account Clerk; Glenda Renee Haislah, Principal Legal Stenographer; Guy Trogani, Investigator; Gwen Williams, Assistant Prosecutor / Director; and Juliet Wood-Warren, Senior Clerk Typist. In 2008, the recipients included: Holt Walker, Detective, in December; La Quanda Williams, Victim Witness Advocate, in October; Budget Analyst Raj Krishnan, in August; and Supervisory Legal Stenographer Marjorie Sherman in May. Senior Clerk Vanessa Harper-Woods received this award in September, 2007; Joan Washington of the Grand Jury Unit in August, 2007; Doris Stoeckel of the Arson Unit, in May 2007; Detective Arnold Anderson, in November, 2006; Secretarial Assistant Rosemary Facchino, in August, 2006; Principal Clerk Halimah Harris, in June, 2006; Automation Specialist Lorraine DeGardnuer, in May, 2006; Victim-Witness Counselor Lisa Fonseca, in April, 2006; and Automation Specialist Cindy Hamilton, in February, 2006.
On February 17, 2016, Essex County Executive Joseph DiVincenzo presented Acting Chief of Investigators Quovella M. Spruill with the 2016 Coretta Scott King Leadership Award.
In 2016, the following New Jersey Attorneys were sworn to the position of Assistant Prosecutor for the Essex County Prosecutor’s Office: Romil Amin, Kara Basufort, Micheal Burke, Donovan Cho, Chelsea Coleman, Donato D’Angelo, Sean Dickson, Opeyemi Faloyin, Anthony Higgins, Patrick Keating, Lawrence Krayn, Anthony Puglisi, Biran Riehl, Kayla Rowe, Tiffany Russo, Logan Teisch, Ashley White, Peter Wojciak, and Yoana Yakova.
On March 31, 2015, Essex County Executive Joseph DiVincenzo presented Assistant Prosecutor Myrna Perez-Drace with the 2015 Althea Gibson Leadership Award.
In 2015, the following New Jersey Attorneys were sworn to the position of Assistant Prosecutor for the Essex County Prosecutor’s Office: Rosanne Breakenridge, Sam Hanna, Sarah Turk, Timothy Brown, Emily Bisnauth, Edward Bilinkas, Alaina Caliendo, Felecia Garnes, and Jennifer Sullivan.