Bloomfield man among several high-ranking prison authorities charged in Edna Mahan incident, AG says

Ryan Valentin NJOAG

Criminal charges have been levied against Department of Corrections Associate Administrator Sean St. Paul and four correctional police officers—a major and three senior officers, one of whom is from Bloomfield — related to an incident in which inmates were assaulted and seriously injured at the Edna Mahan Correctional Facility for Women in Clinton on Jan. 12, 2021, state Attorney General Andrew Bruck announced.

A total of 15 defendants — including St. Paul, a major, a lieutenant, four sergeants and eight senior correctional police officers — now have been charged in the ongoing criminal investigation by the Attorney General’s Office of Public Integrity and Accountability (OPIA) and the Hunterdon County Prosecutor’s Office, conducted with the assistance of the New Jersey Department of Corrections (DOC) Special Investigations Division.

St. Paul was the highest-ranking DOC official at Edna Mahan on the night of the assaults and is the highest-ranking person to be criminally charged in this investigation. Within the DOC, the top-ranking civilian official at a prison holds the title of “administrator,” but the person who held that title at Edna Mahan was on leave during the Jan. 12 assaults. At the time, two officials — St. Paul and an assistant superintendent — shared responsibilities as the facility’s top-ranking officials, although it was St. Paul who was on duty on the night in question.

Also among those charged is Major Ryan Valentin, a resident of Bloomfield. Within DOC, major is the highest rank a correctional police officer may obtain while working at a prison.

“We promised to follow the facts wherever they go, and that’s exactly what we’ve done,” Bruck said. “We are holding accountable everyone who was involved in January’s brutal assaults, from the line officers working the cell block to the highest-ranking prison official on duty that night. With today’s charges, we are making clear that even the senior-most leadership at Edna Mahan must be held responsible for their illegal conduct.”

Bruck urges anyone with information related to this incident to report it by calling (844) OPIA-TIPS.

Between approximately 10:30 p.m., Jan. 11 and 1:15 a.m., Jan. 12, DOC officers and supervisors assigned to the Mahan facility conducted forced-cell extractions of inmates in the Restorative Housing Unit (RHU) complex.

The 15 defendants charged to date allegedly directed or participated in the forced cell extractions.

The following defendants were charged today by complaint-summons with the listed offenses:

St. Paul, 55, of Newark, charged with official misconduct, conspiracy and tampering with public records or information.

The complaint against St. Paul says:

St. Paul allegedly approved, ordered and was present at the facility for forced-cell extractions that were done in a manner contrary to DOC policy for the purpose of punishing inmates in the RHU. During the cell extractions, members of the extraction teams allegedly used excessive and unreasonable force, violating DOC policies and injuring “Victim 1” and “Victim 2.”

St. Paul allegedly failed to make proper notifications of these events as required by DOC policies and procedures. He also sent an email to his superiors at DOC in which he allegedly falsely reported the facts surrounding the forced cell extractions by not revealing that unnecessary and unreasonable force was used against Victims 1 and 2, or that Victims 1 and 2 suffered injuries, and by falsely stating that inmates apologized to him.

Valentin, 44, of Bloomfield, was charged with official misconduct, conspiracy, and tampering with public records or information.

The complaint against Valentin says:

Valentin allegedly approved, ordered and was present for forced cell extractions that were done in a manner contrary to DOC policy for the purpose of punishing inmates in the RHU. During the forced cell extractions, members of the extraction teams allegedly used excessive and unreasonable force, violating DOC policies and injuring “Victim 1” and “Victim 2.”

Valentin also sent an email to his superiors at DOC in which he allegedly falsely reported the facts surrounding the forced-cell extractions by not revealing unnecessary and unreasonable force was used against Victims 1 and 2, or that Victims 1 and 2 suffered injuries.

Also charged were Senior Correctional Police Officer Desiree Lewis, 33, of Elizabeth; Senior Correctional Police Officer Brandon Burgos, 22, of Roseland; and Senior Correctional Police Officer Marika Sprow, 32, of West Orange.

Second-degree charges carry a sentence of five to 10 years in state prison and a fine of up to $150,000. The second-degree official misconduct charge carries a mandatory minimum sentence of five years in prison without possibility of parole.

The second-degree aggravated assault charge carries a mandatory term of parole ineligibility equal to 85% of the sentence imposed.

The third-degree charge of tampering with public records carries a sentence of three to five years in state prison, with a mandatory two-year period of parole ineligibility and a fine of up to $10,000.

The charges are merely accusations and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty in a court of law.

Following the incident, the Attorney General’s Office deployed victim-witness advocates to speak with the inmates who were targeted and to help them obtain the medical and psychological services they needed. Bruck thanked those advocates.

Recordings of the incident were released June 30.

Click here for recordings.

 

Learn more about the writer ...

Editor & Broadcaster at | + posts

Kevin A. Canessa Jr. is the editor of and broadcaster at The Observer, a place where he has served on and off since 2006. He is responsible for the editorial content of the newspaper and website, the production of the e-Newspaper, writing several stories per week (including the weekly editorial), conducting live broadcasts on Facebook Live, including a weekly recap of the news — and much more behind the scenes. Between 2006 and 2008, he introduced the newspaper to its first-ever blog — which included podcasts, audio and video. Originally from Jersey City, Kevin lived in Kearny until 2004, lived in Port St. Lucie. Florida, for four years until February 2016 and in March of that year, he moved back to West Hudson to return to The Observer full time. Click Here to send Kevin an email.