FREEHOLD – A Monmouth County Sheriff’s Office Correctional Police Officer assigned as a guard at the Monmouth County Correctional Institution (MCCI) has been criminally charged with providing a cell phone to an inmate, Monmouth County Prosecutor Raymond S. Santiago announced Thursday.

Latonya C. Johnson, 51, a resident of Piscataway (Middlesex County), is charged with a single count of second-degree Knowingly Providing an Electronic Communication Device to an Inmate.  

An investigation led by the MCPO Professional Responsibility & Bias Crime Bureau and assisted by the MCCI Investigations Division revealed that Johnson brought the cell phone into the jail sometime between May and October 2022, when she and the inmate were engaged in a romantic relationship, in order to be able to communicate with him more frequently.

Johnson was served the charge against her via summons on Monday, January 23, pending a first appearance tentatively scheduled to take place at 9 a.m. on Tuesday, March 7 in Monmouth County Superior Court.

“Sworn members of law enforcement are rightfully held to a higher standard of conduct, and when they fall short of that standard, straying into criminal behavior, swift and decisive action becomes imperative,” Prosecutor Santiago said. “We sincerely thank our partners with the MCCI Investigation Division and the Sheriff’s Office, under the direction of Sheriff Shaun Golden, for their assistance in this investigation.”

“All members of the law enforcement profession have a sworn duty to exhibit the highest level of professionalism with honor and integrity as they protect and serve. Any conduct that does not meet that expectation will not be tolerated,” Sheriff Golden added. “I’m proud of the correctional police officers who tirelessly serve this agency. An officer who violates his or her oath of office does a grave disservice to their co-workers, as well as the entire law enforcement profession, and will be held accountable with proper disciplinary action taken.”

This case is being prosecuted by Monmouth County Assistant Prosecutor Melanie Falco, Director of the MCPO Professional Responsibility & Bias Crime Bureau. Johnson is being represented by Patrick J. Caserta, Esq., with an office in Wayne Township (Passaic County).  

Convictions on second-degree criminal charges can be punishable by up to 10 years in state prison.  

Despite these charges, every defendant is presumed innocent, unless and until found guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, following a trial at which the defendant has all of the trial rights guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution and State law.