The Union County Prosecutor’s Office Homicide Task Force is responsible for the investigation of all homicide cases, including vehicular homicides, occurring within Union County. The Unit is also responsible for the investigation of suspicious deaths, the deaths of minors, and murder-suicides.
The Homicide Task Force works in conjunction with detectives and police officers employed by the municipality in which each death occurs in conducting these investigations, maintaining a 24-hour-a-day legal and investigative “on-call” service to all law enforcement agencies in Union County.
The Task Force is staffed by a team of assistant prosecutors, approximately one dozen detectives, task force offers on loan to the Union County Prosecutor’s Office from the various local and county law enforcement agencies, and civilian personnel. Some of the unit personnel are also assigned to particular tasks, such as the investigations of yet-unsolved homicides, often referred to by members of the public and press as “cold cases.”
The Union County Prosecutor’s Office Domestic Violence Unit is comprised of two sections: the Indictable Crime Section and the Family Court Section. The Indictable Crime Section is an investigative unit devoted to the investigation and vertical prosecution of domestic violence crimes. While breaking the cycle of violence is the priority for the experienced trial and investigative assistant prosecutors assigned to the Indictable Crimes Section of this Unit, they simultaneously do their best to ensure that victims receive the care and attention they need by handling the case from investigation through trial.
Cases involving parental abductions or interference with child custody are also investigated by the Domestic Violence Unit. In such cases, the offending parent absconds or denies visitation in defiance of a court order. Children in these cases are usually not at risk of injury, and the cases are usually resolved by locating the offending parent and securing the voluntary surrender of the child.
The Family Court Section of the Domestic Violence Unit serves as training ground for newer assistant prosecutors who have the opportunity to second seat trials prosecuted by the attorneys assigned to the indictable section of the Unit. The assistant prosecutors assigned to this Unit also prosecute violations of domestic violence restraining orders issued by the Family Court, and represent the State of New Jersey at court hearings regarding weapons seized for safekeeping in domestic violence cases.
The members of the Domestic Violence Unit provide advice and complaint approval to municipal police departments in domestic violence matters. And assistant prosecutors are on call 24/7/365 throughout the County to assist municipal departments with these matters. The staff of this Unit also provides instruction at the John H. Stamler Police Academy on domestic violence laws and related investigations.
In February 2013, the Union County Child Advocacy Center staff and the Union County Prosecutor’s Office’s Sex Crimes Unit merged to form a single Special Victims Unit (SVU). Under acting Prosecutor Ruotolo, the SVU is assuming primary responsibility for the investigation and prosecution of all cases in which a child of any age, from infants to age 17, disclose incidents of sexual assault or contact.
SVU representatives work jointly with municipal police detectives in the initial stages of investigating cases of sexual abuse of adults. The SVU legal staff supervises the investigations, handling referrals from all 21 municipalities in Union County, and reviews witness interviews, suspect statements, and evidence analysis, while also obtaining search warrants, court orders for phone records, and biological evidence. The Unit investigators work with municipal officers in providing field support.
The SVU works closely with the Sexual Assault Response Team (SART), the Union County Prosecutor’s Office Forensics Laboratory, and the New Jersey State Police Laboratory.
The Director of the SVU also has responsibility for the Union County Prosecutor’s Office Released Offenders Unit.
The Union County Prosecutor’s Office Released Offenders Unit is responsible for ensuring that all convicted sex offenders residing in Union County have properly registered their residence, employment, and/or school attendance with the police department in the municipality in which they live. This includes verifying that the registrant does in fact reside at his or her given address and ensures the monitoring of offenders with local law enforcement to achieve compliance with the quarterly and annual address verification for each registrant residing in Union County.
The Unit also works closely with the New Jersey State Parole Board Sex Offender Management Unit and the GPS Monitoring Unit in investigating and prosecuting offenders who violate provisions of community supervision for life, parole supervision for life, or GPS conditions. The Unit also ensures that immediate notification is made to the GPS Unit of a Tier Three (high-risk) offender determination to coordinate the mandatory placement of the offender on GPS monitoring.
The Union County Prosecutor’s Office Special Prosecutions Unit handles the investigation and prosecution of complex financial matters, insurance fraud, bribery, kickback schemes, election law violations, identity theft, bias crimes, Open Public Meeting Act violations, welfare fraud, environmental crimes, arson, and computer crimes, among other offenses.
The Special Prosecutions Unit is also home to the Union County Prosecutor’s Office Animal Cruelty Unit. A dedicated assistant prosecutor and member of the investigative staff, work with task force members to rescue animals from unsafe conditions. The devoted assistant prosecutor and investigator, with expertise in this area of law and specialized training, investigate – and ultimately prosecute when appropriate – potential violations of the animal cruelty laws.
The Special Prosecutions Unit is also charged with the responsibility of investigating and prosecuting crimes involving misconduct by those in a position of public trust. The subjects of these matters may include elected or appointed public officials, as well as law enforcement officers, who misuse their positions. The Unit also investigates allegations that attorneys have criminally misappropriated the funds of their clients.