EDISON, NJ – Four township police officers pleaded guilty Friday to charges they planned to retaliate against a North Brunswick police officer who arrested an individual, known to one of the officers, for drunk driving in 2012, according to a Middlesex County Prosecutor’s Office press release.
Officers Michael Dotro, 39, of Manalapan, Brian Favretto, 41, of Brick, Victor Aravena, 45, of Edison and Sgt. William Gesell, 48, of Edison, made the pleas Friday with jury selection in their trial underway, according to the release.
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.
“This is a sad day for the Edison Police Department because of the tarnish it brings to the reputations of our many other upstanding and hard-working police officers,” Edison Business Administrator Maureen Ruane said. “We are glad to see these men chose to resign their positions, bringing an end to their tenure here. We must also commend the Middlesex County Prosecutors Office for its diligent investigation and prosecution of this matter.”
The case is not the end for Dotro, however.
He is facing several other charges from two unrelated matters.
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.
He is also charged with attempted murder and other charges from trying to set fire to the Monroe Township home of his police captain, while the captain and his family were asleep.
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