Another NJ trooper harassed women for dates, pension fight reveals
This is yet another case of a State Trooper trying to pick up women while on the job — something they're not allowed to do.
Sean Link, who joined the State Police in 2005, was forced to resign nearly 11 years later after officials learned that he tailed one woman for 10 miles and spent months pursuing another woman who had a DWI charge hanging over her head.
This case is being reported for the first time because Link was never charged with a crime and officials kept his disciplinary actions under wraps. The details of the investigation have been released because Link has been trying to collect his pension and appealed to Superior Court after the pension board denied his benefits.
This is the latest known instance of a trooper being accused of breaking laws and regulations in order to find a date.
According to a Thursday appellate court decision, Link pleaded guilty to five internal disciplinary charges for incidents that occurred in 2008 and 2009. In 2016, he resigned under a negotiated voluntary plea agreement regarding the disciplinary matter.
Authorities said that on April 7, 2008, Link followed a woman’s vehicle for 10 miles and used his car’s mobile data computer to snoop into the woman’s personal information without conducting a proper motor vehicle stop.
Months later on Jan. 18, 2009, he got a woman who had been pulled over for DWI to give him her phone number by telling her that he could help get the charge dismissed.
Officials said Link spent several months trying to “procure a romantic relationship with the woman,” the appellate decision says, by trying to intervene in the DWI case, showing up unannounced at her job and repeatedly calling her from a blocked number.
Officials said Link told the woman to contact a judge “to pull some strings”; told her that proper procedures were not followed during the stop; and told her that he could tell the arresting officer to “lay off” by claiming that she was his childhood friend.
Officials said Link then lied about what happened when questioned by investigators in 2012.
Before resigning, Link applied for an accidental disability retirement pension by claiming injuries from an on-duty accident in October 2012.
In May 24, 2016, the Board of Trustees for the State Police Retirement System rejected his application for accidental retirement benefits and ruled that he should get no pension whatsoever because “his egregious misconduct […] continued over numerous years” and that he “demonstrated a high degree of moral turpitude” and “a pattern of violation of the public trust.” The board, however, did allow him to get a refund of his pension contributions.
Link appealed to an administrative law judge, who ruled that losing his entire pension would be too harsh of a punishment.
The pension board, which is not bound to accept an administrative law judge’s findings, disagreed and insisted that he forfeit his entire pension because the misconduct was directly related to his employment.
Link appealed to Superior Court, arguing that his misconduct was not pervasive or chronic.
A two-judge panel this week rejected his appeal, describing his conduct as “deplorable.”
The judges reasoned that it is “irrelevant” that Link did not personally benefit from his rule breaking because “the true casualty of his misconduct was betrayal of the public’s trust.”
The judges also concluded that because he had been forced to retire because of misconduct, and not because of any injury, he was not eligible for the accidental disability benefits.
In a separate case earlier this year, a Superior Court judge rejected the state’s effort to dismiss a lawsuit by a woman who said a trooper stole nude photos from her phone during a traffic stop.
That trooper, Marquice D. Prather, was fired and sentenced to three years of probation last year after he was caught pulling over women and going through their phones to find intimate images. He's facing at least two lawsuits by women.
Another trooper, Eric Richardson, was also accused of pulling over women and harassing them for dates. He pleaded guilty last year to illegally looking up personal information on an FBI database and was sentenced to three years of probation.
Sergio Bichao is deputy digital editor at New Jersey 101.5. Send him news tips: Call 609-359-5348 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.