The case against a corrections officer in New Jersey who had been accused of concealing his membership in two criminal motorcycle gangs has been withdrawn.
The Newark state prison cook, Ruben Morales, was also suspected of concealing his side food truck operation.
The state indictment that had been filed against him was recently dismissed, however, rendering all of the allegations against him moot.
Nearly 20 years into his career as a corrections officer, Morales had publicly declared his innocence upon the indictment’s announcement in early 2021.
The state’s plea for dismissal was granted by a judge in Newark’s Superior Court last month.
Authorities revealed in court documents that investigators messed up by, among other things, failing to videotape their conversation with Morales.
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It took nearly two hours for Morales to find out he was under arrest, and when he did, he wasn’t given a chance to read his Miranda rights.
Judge Verna G. Leath of the Superior Court dropped the indictment against Morales with prejudice, meaning the state cannot re-file the same accusations.
The state Department of Corrections had placed Morales on administrative leave from his position as a corrections officer at Northern State Prison, located across from Newark Airport.
Morales will now try to get his lost wages reinstated while also applying for medical retirement.
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He is also suing the state, the DOC, and the prison for violations of his civil rights, including retaliation and intentional infliction of emotional distress.
After being out of work for 16 months due to a severe back injury (he was battered by a prisoner who escaped his cell through a broken door), Morales was arrested in August of 2020 during what he assumed would be a discussion about retiring.
In his defense, Morales claimed that he had stopped being a member of the “Thug Riders” and “Thunderguards” motorcycle gangs in 2017 after he and another corrections officer purchased a food truck. He claimed he had never hidden the fact that he belonged to these organizations.
Morales said he had disclosed the food truck business and refrained from doing anything that could have aggravated his injury while he was out on workers’ comp.
According to Morales, the pressure eventually caused him to lose his business and land in the hospital for a while.