A former Plainfield police sergeant has been convicted of charges he falsely accused a city woman of crimes two years ago, then threatened her with jail time in order to coerce her into performing a sexual act, acting Union County Prosecutor Grace H. Park announced Thursday.
Following a weeklong trial, a jury late on Wednesday found Samuel Woody, 43, guilty of second-degree official misconduct and fourth-degree criminal sexual contact.
The date was July 24, 2011 when Woody, then a 12-year veteran of the Plainfield Police Division, arrested the victim, then a 27-year-old city resident, on bogus theft and burglary charges, according to Union County Assistant Prosecutor Jim Tansey, who prosecuted the case. As the woman was leaving Plainfield police headquarters after being released on a summons, Woody told her he wanted to meet her later, Tansey said.
Later, in an outdoor lot on Madison Avenue in Plainfield, Woody met with the woman. Using the threat of five years in prison, he coerced her into removing parts of her clothing and performed a sexual act on himself while in full police uniform, Tansey said.
The theft and burglary charges against the victim later were dismissed when no probable cause for her arrest was revealed in court, and the criminal contact of Woody subsequently was reported to police. A joint investigation by the Union County Prosecutor’s Office Special Prosecutions Unit and the Plainfield Police Division Internal Affairs Unit followed, and Woody was arrested in January 2012 and suspended without pay pending the investigation.
“The conduct of this officer was not only criminal,” acting Prosecutor Park said, “but brazenly flagrant in the manner in which it violated the public’s trust.”
Woody was remanded following Wednesday’s convictions. Sentencing was scheduled for Feb. 3, 2014, at which time he is expected to receive a term of up to 10 years in prison, including a mandatory five-year period of parole ineligibility on the official misconduct conviction, along with being barred from ever again holding public office in the state of New Jersey.