TRENTON – Acting Attorney General John J. Hoffman announced that a Mercer County sheriff’s officer was indicted by a state grand jury on charges that he unlawfully provided 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 suspended Mercer County sheriff’s officer who previously was assigned to the Mercer County Criminal Courthouse, was indicted by a state grand jury on charges of second-degree official misconduct and second-degree wrongful access and disclosure of information. The indictment was voted by the state grand jury yesterday but handed up in court today. McKenna was suspended after being charged by complaint in the case on Oct. 29.
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, 2015 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.
Deputy Attorney General Mallory Shanahan of the Corruption Bureau and Deputy Attorney General Veronica Allende, Deputy Chief of the Financial & Computer Crimes Bureau, are assigned to prosecute the case and presented the indictment to the state grand jury for the Division of Criminal Justice.
Under state law, second-degree crimes carry a sentence of five to 10 years in state prison and a criminal fine of up to $150,000. The official misconduct charge carries a mandatory five-year period of parole ineligibility, and the wrongful access and disclosure of information charge carries a mandatory period of parole ineligibility equal to one-third to one-half of the sentence imposed. The indictment is merely an accusation and the defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty.
The indictment was handed up to Superior Court Judge Peter Warshaw in Mercer County, who assigned the case to Burlington County, where McKenna will appear in court at a later date for arraignment.