A New Jersey state police trooper repeatedly pulled over women only to ask them out on dates. The trooper even pulled out his handcuffs to threaten arrest in exchange for womens' phone numbers.
Now the trooper has lost his annual $60,000 job over the matter.
32-year-old Eric Richardson pleaded guilty Monday to illegally using an FBI database to track women and force them to give him their cell phone numbers under the threat of arrest. Richardson was suspended after being arrested in May 2017 on a six-count indictment including charges of official misconduct, criminal coercion and tampering with records. Richardson targeted women as they drove on South Jersey highways, according to the state Attorney General’s Office.
A State Police Office of Professional Standards investigation revealed that Richardson repeatedly pulled over two women and harassed them about starting an intimate relationship with him, WDTN reports.
And knowing he was wrong, Richardson even deactivated his cruiser's dashboard camera during some of the stops, according to the state Attorney General's Office.
On Nov. 22, 2016, Richardson pulled over a woman for a tinted windows violation. Her registration was expired, and Richardson let her drive away without impounding her vehicle, arresting her, or giving her a citation.
But Richardson then followed the woman and pulled her over again, pressuring her to give him her phone number. The woman consented and Richardson then sent her several text messages.
Continuing to exhibit stalking behavior, Richardson pulled her over again in Atlantic City in January 2017. Richardson falsely reported in the dispatch log that he stopped to aid a motorist. But in reality Richardson had stopped to ask the woman if her phone number had changed, and if she received his messages, according to the state investigation.
On Dec. 23, 2016, the attorney general's office said Richardson pulled over a second woman in Gloucester Township whose license and registration were suspended. There was a warrant out for her arrest and Richardson pulled out his cuffs threatening to arrest her if she didn't give him her number, according to the Attorney General's Office.
Richardson released the woman when she gave him her phone number, despite her active warrant for her arrest. Richardson texted the woman on the number she provided.
Lying to cover his tracks, Richardson reported in the dispatch log the person he stopped was a man.
New Jersey State Police suspended Richardson on May 31, 2017 after he was charged with illegally obtaining information on another woman on May 8, 2017 through the FBI's Criminal Justice Information Services database, the state said.
As part of the guilty plea, Richardson admitted he illegally accessed the database on behalf of a male friend. Richardson completed a "driver inquiry" on a woman his friend allegedly employed and took a photo of her driver history and texted it to his friend, the Attorney General said.
On Monday Richardson forfeited his position as a state trooper and was permanently banned from state employment.
Richardson will be sentenced on Aug. 3. The state plans to request that Richardson be sentenced to probation.
Richardson is prohibited from ever having contact with the female victims, and will pay restitution to the victims if they require counseling, the state said.