FREEHOLD – A former Sea Bright Police Officer has been sentenced to five years in state prison for a series of crimes he committed against an ex-girlfriend, Monmouth County Prosecutor Raymond S. Santiago announced Monday.  

Erich A. Bennett, 47, is also permanently barred from ever again holding public office in the State of New Jersey.

During a plea hearing that took place in September, Bennett acknowledged that between October 2022 and January 2023, he engaged in a course of conduct that put the victim in fear, to include at one point disabling security cameras on the exterior of her home and causing damage to her property by slashing her tires and keying her car. He further admitted to driving by her residence and threatening her with physical harm, including sexual mutilation, both in person and via a fake social media account. Additionally, Bennett stated that while on duty with the Sea Bright Police Department, he conducted unauthorized lookups of the victim and four of her associates in law enforcement databases, absent any legitimate law enforcement purpose.

Bennett was arrested without incident in late January 2023. The charges he admitted to earlier this year included third-degree Computer Theft, third-degree Criminal Mischief, fourth-degree Hindering Apprehension, and fourth-degree Stalking. 

Monmouth County Superior Court Judge Joseph W. Oxley sentenced Bennett on Friday, further noting that he was also being ordered to surrender all of his privately owned firearms, submit to a permanent restraining order barring him from ever again contacting the victim, and pay restitution in the amount of nearly $4,800.

The victim was present for the sentencing hearing and read a statement into the record.

“This defendant swore an oath to keep the public safe from individuals capable of the type of conduct he ultimately committed, marking an egregious betrayal of the public’s trust,” Prosecutor Santiago said. “We strongly commend the victim’s courage and fortitude in this matter.”

This case was prosecuted by Monmouth County Assistant Prosecutor Melanie Falco, Director of the MCPO Professional Responsibility Unit. Bennett was represented by Mitchell J. Ansell, Esq., with an office in Ocean Township.