10 NJ corrections officers now charged with beating woman inmates
Ten corrections officers now face charges stemming from an overnight series of brutal assaults on inmates at the state's only all women’s prison.
Lt. Eddie Molina and Sgt. Andraia Bridges were involved in two different groups of guards that forced inmates from their cells early on Jan. 12 at Edna Mahan Correctional Facility for Women in Clinton Township, which left several women hurt, according to the Office of the Attorney General.
Molina, 42, of East Brunswick, has been charged with two counts of second-degree official misconduct and third-degree tampering with public records.
He was the supervising corrections officer involved in a five-person team that entered one woman's cell just after midnight immediately after she was pepper-sprayed and used “excessive force” to remove her, according to a complaint.
Investigators have video footage of the incident, in which the inmate is seen with injuries to her face and is talking about being hurt. Molina later sent an email to other corrections officers and lied about the encounter, prosecutors said.
Bridges, 44, of North Plainfield, has been charged with second-degree official misconduct for being part of a five-person team that left a different woman with a broken bone in her eye socket, during a beating after 1 a.m. according to complaints filed.
She is the final member of that team to face charges, following senior corrections officers Jose Irizarry, Courey James, Gustavo Sarmiento Jr., and Tara Wallace. Each of them previously has been charged with aggravated assault and official misconduct charges.
Other correctional officers previously charged in connection with inmate beatings within the same overnight span are Luis Garcia and Sgts. Amir Bethea, Matthew Faschan and Anthony Valvan.
The state recently announced a $20.8 million settlement and a plan to start using body-worn cameras at the women's prison as a result of sexual misconduct and harassment accusations going back at least seven years.
The Edna Mahan facility has been at the center of at least 20 complaints on behalf of 22 current or former inmates, as well as two class-action complaints from women who were either directly impacted by sexual misconduct or who were inmates in the facility between 2014 and the current time, according to the state Department of Corrections.