NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ — A probation officer who worked with people admitted to drug court in New Brunswick pleaded guilty today to taking money in exchange for keeping a man’s name off a random drug-testing list, according to the Middlesex County Prosecutor’s Office.
Rhonda Battle, a 48-year-old Roselle resident, has agreed to serve three years in state prison with no chance of parole for the first two years. She also agreed to give up her job and never again work in New Jersey’s public sector.
Battle pleaded guilty to official misconduct for accepting bribes, including a $400 payment on Dec. 23, 2015, from an individual who was required to report to her as part of his probation, according to the prosecutor’s office.
Sentencing is scheduled for June 16 before state Superior Court Judge John M. Deitch in Elizabeth. He may choose to accept or reject the terms of the plea deal.
Court officials moved the case from Middlesex to Elizabeth to avoid any potential conflict of interest.
According to the prosecutor’s office, Battle excluded her client’s name from a list of people to be drug-tested, “knowing he would test positive for drug abuse.” If that individual were to fail, he would’ve been found in violation of his court-ordered probationary sentence.
Battle accept bribes throughout 2014, according to an investigation by Det. Nicholas Chiorello of the Middlesex County Prosecutor’s Office.
As a probation officer, she worked with people who were admitted to the state’s drug court program at the Middlesex County Courthouse in New Brunswick.
That initiative offers drug users an “alternative to incarceration,” according to the prosecutor’s office. Instead, first-time offenders may receive counseling, rehab and probation.