Suspended police officer faces prison time in offered plea deal

Vernon. Emanuel Rivera is accused of groping a woman who had called for aid in a domestic violence incident.

| 08 Jun 2021 | 10:08

Emanuel Rivera, 37, the Vernon police officer suspended for groping a woman who had called for aid in a May 2019 domestic violence incident, faces three years in state prison in a plea deal offered by Sussex County Prosecutors.

First Assistant Prosecutor Gregory Mueller is the lead prosecutor in the case, which resulted in Rivera’s arrest last May. He did not return calls and messages for comment.

Vernon Township Mayor Howard Burrell confirmed the details of the plea deal, which Rivera must decide to accept or reject over the next few weeks: time in state prison for pleading guilty to second-degree official misconduct that will treated at sentencing as a third-degree misconduct.

Burrell told The Advertiser News that the vigilance of his police chief, Dan Young, was the reason Rivera’s assault charges were pursued in the first place. Young discovered that Rivera was lying when he said he knew nothing about the incident when he inspected the officer’s GPS records. Young found that the vehicle Rivera was driving was in the location where the alleged victim woman said the assault took place. Young then sent the information to the county prosecutors’ office, beginning of the case.

Burrell said he’s known Young all his life and that he’s proud of the work the chief and his department in doing. He said he knows that some communities are suffering from a lack of trust in their police departments, but that Vernon Township’s force is doing a fine job.

The Sussex County Prosecutor’s Office conducted a three-month investigation before filing charges in May 2020.

The prosecutor’s office alleges that during the early morning hours of May 11, 2019, Rivera responded to a domestic incident at a residence in Vernon Township. The female subject of the call was asked to leave the residence. It is alleged that shortly thereafter, Rivera located the victim and engaged in illegal sexual contact through coercive means.

Rivera joined the Vernon Township Police Department in August 2013. He had previously served for six years as a member of the Paterson Police Department.