EDISON, NJ – Former police officer Michael Dotro is facing even more charges after allegedly tampering with a witness in one of the criminal cases pending against him, prosecutors said Thursday.
In a press release from the Middlesex County Prosecutor’s Office, officials said Dotro, 40, of Manalapan, is now charged with witness tampering and conspiracy to commit witness tampering after working with another unidentified individual to intimidate a witness against him, the release said.
Dotro forfeited his position as an Edison patrolman in September as part of a guilty plea in one of a slew of criminal cases brought against him.
In addition, he is facing yet another charge regarding trying to set fire to a superior officer’s house in Monroe in 2013, Middlesex County Prosecutor Andrew Carey said last fall.
Dotro and current Edison police officer Christian Pedana are now charged with conspiracy to commit aggravated arson and official misconduct relating to incidents in 2013, a press release from Carey’s office said.
This case is in addition to charges Dotro faces for trying to burn down the home of a superior officer in Monroe Township on May 20,2013.
According to police, Dotro tried starting the fire by throwing a Molotov Cocktail at the home where the officer and his family were sleeping.
The residents of the home escaped unharmed, police said.
The new charges now include Pedana, who police say, lied during questioning by Middlesex County Detective Donald Heck in June 2013.
He is charged with false swearing and a related count of official misconduct, according to the release.
Dotro, who resigned from the department was already out on $1.6 million bail and pleaded guilty along with three other officers in September in a separate case, and is still facing charges in other cases.
Dotro, along with officers Brian Favretto, 41, of Brick, Victor Aravena, 45, of Edison and Sgt. William Gesell, 48, of Edison, made the pleas in September with jury selection in their trial underway, according to a press release at the time.
The charges stem from a 2012 incident where a North Brunswick police officer arrested an individual for drunk driving, police said.
Dotro, who pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy in the case, knew the individual charged and admitted that he sought to retaliate against the North Brunswick officer for the arrest, according to police.
Favretto pleaded guilty to a count of obstruction of the administration of the law, admitting that he tried to intervene in the drunk driving case, police said.
Sgt. Gesell admitted that he accessed computer records on the North Brunswick officer to aid Dotro in the retaliation plan, according to police.
He pleaded guilty to tampering with public records, police said.
Aravena pleaded guilty to a count of obstruction of administration of the law by admitting that he passed along computer records to Dotro as part of the plan.
Although the plans were in process, no actual retaliation took place, investigators determined.
The officers are scheduled to be sentenced in New Brunswick on Jan. 13, 2017 and each will forfeit their jobs and never hold public jobs in the state again as well as face probationary terms under the terms of the plea agreement, police said.
In addition, Dotro is also charged with slashing a township woman’s tires, having prohibited devices, possession of an imitation firearm, carrying brass knuckles, carrying a small club known as a “black jack,” possession of a small quantity of marijuana and possession of a device to smoke marijuana, all from a May 2013 incident, according to police.
Dotro is being held at the Middlesex County Adult Corrections Center in North Brunswick and is expected to appear before Superior Court Judge Gary Price on the new charge tomorrow, according to the release.