FLEMINGTON, NJ – A former corrections officer at the state’s only women’s prison has been sentenced to state prison after being charged with sexual assault.

Joel Mercado, 38, of Lyndhurst, was arrested in 2017 on two counts of second-degree official misconduct and two counts of second-degree sexual assault in connection with his job. He was working as a Senior Correction Officer for the state Department of Corrections at Edna Mahan prison in Union Township at the time of his arrest.

Mercado was part of a broad investigation into the prison’s officers that led to dozens of indictments.

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Mercado worked for the Department of Corrections since 2007, according to a press release from Hunterdon County Acting Prosecutor Michael J. Williams. A joint investigation revealed Mercado engaged in a sexual relationship with two inmates, Williams said.

On Friday, Judge Angela F. Borkowski sentenced Mercado to three years in state prison.

Mercado was also ordered to forfeit his pension and his current and any future public employment in New Jersey.