The Attorney General’s Office has well-established procedures for addressing conflict-of-interest issues involving County Prosecutor’s Offices. These procedures apply not only to cases involving actual conflicts of interest, but also to those involving perceived or potential conflicts. Generally speaking, if a County Prosecutor believes that there is or may be a conflict of interest in a particular criminal matter, he or she may request that the Division of Criminal Justice (DCJ) “supersede” – or assume responsibility for – that matter. If DCJ agrees to supersede, then DCJ either handles the case itself or assigns it to another County Prosecutor’s Office.
Earlier this month, the Hudson County Prosecutor’s Office (HCPO) received a media inquiry about a criminal investigation involving Mr. Albert J. Alvarez. HCPO obtained and reviewed the case file, which showed that the investigation of Mr. Alvarez was opened and closed in 2017. The file further indicated that the matter was investigated by career detectives and reviewed by veteran special victims prosecutors. Like most cases of this nature, it was opened and closed without involvement by Hudson County Prosecutor Esther Suarez or members of her executive leadership team.
During that review of the file earlier this month, however, Prosecutor Suarez realized that she personally knew both the complainant and the subject of the investigation. Although these personal relationships in no way affected the investigation that was conducted in 2017, Prosecutor Suarez decided – out of an abundance of caution – to request that DCJ supersede the case. DCJ agreed to that request and re-assigned the matter to the Middlesex County Prosecutor’s Office (MCPO) last week. MCPO detectives are reviewing the case file and will take any additional investigative steps they deem appropriate.
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