Mercer County Sheriff’s Officer Charged with Unlawfully Providing Three Arrest Photos of Juvenile to Newspaper

TRENTON – Acting Attorney General John J. Hoffman announced that a Mercer County sheriff’s officer was charged today with unlawfully providing a newspaper with three arrest photos of a juvenile. The newspaper published the photos and named the juvenile.

Christopher J. McKenna, 37, of Hamilton, N.J., a Mercer County sheriff’s officer assigned to the Mercer County Criminal Courthouse, was charged today by complaint with wrongful access and disclosure of information, a third-degree crime. McKenna allegedly accessed a restricted law enforcement database to obtain three arrest photos of a juvenile. It is alleged that he unlawfully provided the photos to a newspaper reporter for The Trentonian on or about Aug. 21, in violation of New Jersey law, which prohibits public disclosure of juvenile court records.

The newspaper subsequently published the three photos along with an article that named the juvenile in the photos and included details of the three arrests of the juvenile.

McKenna allegedly obtained the three arrest photos from a restricted photo database that is used by county and local law enforcement agencies. Before an individual can gain access to the database, he or she must accept the website’s terms of use, which includes a statement that reads, “Information contained on this Website may only be used for law enforcement purposes. Except law enforcement agencies, information contained on this Website shall not be disseminated to any other individual or entity….  Unauthorized use of the Website may result in criminal prosecution.”

Under state law, third-degree crimes carry a sentence of three to five years in state prison and a criminal fine of up to $15,000. The charge is merely an accusation and the defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty.

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