A New Jersey state trooper who gained acclaim for his work with Camden children was indicted Thursday for using his position to harass women, the New Jersey Attorney General's Office reported.
Eric Richardson, 32, of Camden, is accused of stopping two women in 2016 and coercing them to give him their phone numbers. He also allegedly illegally used a law enforcement database to do a background check for a friend.
The trooper was a volunteer assistant basketball coach at Camden High School, and in May 2016 he received recognition from Teach Anti-Bullying Inc., a national organization, for his work as a role model for students, according to the New Jersey State Police.
Richardson was suspended from his position as a state trooper, the attorney general reported.
Richardson pulled over one woman on Nov. 22, 2016, and warned her that her windows were illegally tinted, authorities said. He then tried to win her favor by not towing her car even though her registration had expired. He let her drive away, but then followed her and pulled her over a second time, this time asking for her phone number. He persisted in asking even after she told him she had a boyfriend, and then texted her repeatedly. He pulled the same woman over a third time on Jan. 3, 2017, in Atlantic City and asked her if she had the same number and was getting his messages. He falsely reported the stop as an effort to assist a motorist, law enforcement said.
The trooper is accused of stopping the second woman on Dec. 23, 2016, in Gloucester Township. The woman's license and registration were expired and she had a warrant for her arrest, the attorney general reported, but that wasn't what prompted Richardson to take out his cuffs and threaten to put them on her. Rather, authorities said, he threatened to arrest her if she didn't give him her phone number.
After she gave him her number he let her go despite the open warrant, and then falsely reported that the person stopped was a man. He sent text messages to this woman as well.
Richardson is also accused of using an FBI database illegally to look up the driving record of a woman a friend had hired.
A grand jury indicted Richardson on counts of second-degree official misconduct, third-degree criminal coercion, third-degree tampering with public records, fourth-degree falsifying or tampering with public records, second-degree wrongful access or disclosure of information, and fourth-degree obtaining information from a motor-vehicle record. The second-degree offense carries a potential penalty of up to 10 years in prison.