A New Jersey state police officer was arrested and suspended from his job without pay for conducting traffic stops on young women so he could ask them out on dates.
Trooper Marquice Prather, 37, has been charged with tampering with or falsifying public records for attempting to cover up his improper stops.
He was arrested Friday.
An internal investigation found that on several occasions Prather deactivated his microphone while asking the women out, then lied to supervisors claiming it had malfunctioned.
He also falsely reported the gender of the drivers he pulled over in an attempt to hide the disproportionate amount of drivers he stopped that were women.
An investigation began after several women came forward to file complaints alleging improper conduct against Prather. The investigation was conducted by the New Jersey State Police Office of Professional Standards, which found Prather showed a pattern of pulling over women, ages 20 to 35, and soliciting them for a date or to exchange phone numbers.
Investigators contacted several other women Prather had stopped who made similar allegations.
Prather faces three to five years in prison and fine up to $15,000 for tampering with government records, which is a third-degree felony. The fourth-degree charge for tampering with government records carries a sentence up to 18 months.
Prather’s defense lawyer, Robert Ebberup, stated his client plans on pleading not guilty, but declined to comment about the allegations made against him by his own department.
“We can’t comment on the case until more information is available,” Ebberup told a reporter.
New Jersey state payroll records reveal Prather makes $60,749 yearly. He joined the statewide force in 2013.
Prather was released after his arrest without posting bail. The charges against him will be presented to a grand jury at a later date to for a potential indictment.