U.S. Attorney's Office
District of New Jersey
(973) 645-2888
November 13, 2014

Essex County Corrections Officer Charged with Taking Bribes to Smuggle Contraband into Federal Pretrial Detention Facility

NEWARK, NJ—An Essex County corrections officer was arrested today by special agents of the FBI for taking bribes to smuggle contraband, including cell phones and cigarettes, into the Essex County Jail, a federal pretrial detention facility, U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman announced.

John Grosso, 41, of Belleville, New Jersey, was arrested this morning at the Essex County Jail. He is charged by complaint with one count of conspiring to commit extortion under color of official right, in violation of the Hobbs Act. He appeared this afternoon before U.S. Magistrate Judge Cathy L. Waldor in Newark federal court and was released on $100,000 bail.

According to the complaint:

On multiple occasions between November 2013 and December 2013, Grosso, a corrections officer at the Essex County Jail, accepted cash bribes of approximately $1,000 in return for smuggling cell phones and cigarettes to an inmate. Grosso usually met with the inmate’s associate in the parking lot of the Best Buy store in Secaucus, New Jersey, to accept the contraband packages and cash bribes, before delivering the packages to the inmate.

Conspiring to commit extortion under color of official right, in violation of the Hobbs Act, carries a maximum potential penalty of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

U.S. Attorney Fishman credited special agents of the FBI, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Aaron T. Ford in Newark, and the Internal Affairs Division of Essex County Correctional Facility, under the leadership of Warden Roy Hendricks, with the investigation.

The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Rahul Agarwal of the U.S. Attorney’s Office Special Prosecutions Division and Rob Frazer of the Criminal Division, Organized Crime/Gangs Unit, in Newark.

The charge and allegations contained in the complaint are merely accusations and the defendant is considered innocent unless and until proven guilty.

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