NEWTON – The Newton officer accused of exposing himself to male drivers over a 7-month period last year was sentenced to a 2-year probationary term Friday in Superior Court.
Prior to Jason Miller’s sentencing, Judge Thomas Critchley said he believes “it would be off the mark to include a jail term” because he thinks the 38-year-old has already “suffered consequences.”
Miller had to immediately forfeit his job at the department he worked at for nearly 15 years and was also barred from seeking employment as a law enforcement officer in New Jersey, according to the terms of a plea deal he accepted in June.
He pleaded guilty to one count of tampering with records, a fourth-degree crime, admitting he’d shut off the audio and video components of his police car’s dashboard camera system “to conceal unprofessional and inappropriate conduct” between March 1, 2014 and Oct. 23, 2014.
The state also sought a 60-day term in county jail, as well as a probationary period of between one and five years.
In Superior Court Friday Critchley said he believes Miller has “accepted responsibility” and it’s “time to move on.”
In addition to probation, Miller was ordered to undergo a mental health evaluation and follow all recommendations made, as well as pay $150 in fines.
In late October 2014 an investigation was launched by the Sussex County Prosecutor’s Office after the Newton Police Department received two anonymous tips alleging that Miller had unzipped his pants during “numerous” traffic stops of male drivers between the ages of 18 and 26.
After reviewing dashboard camera footage captured from Miller’s police car and speaking with drivers the officer had stopped, authorities charged him with two counts of official misconduct, one count of a pattern of official misconduct, and one count of lewdness.
During the course of its investigation, authorities uncovered no evidence suggesting any sex acts had occurred between Miller and the drivers he’d pulled over or that the officers made attempts to solicit sex from the men, Sussex County First Assistant Prosecutor Greg Mueller said previously.
When Miller turned himself in at the prosecutor’s office, he was ordered to surrender any firearms and was also suspended indefinitely without pay pending the outcome of the charges.
Mueller, who represented the state on the case, said the victims were “not just the public and the motorists.”
“It was also the township of Newton, the police department, and the officers who wear the same uniform as he did,” Mueller said in court. “I have no doubt in my mind that if he could he would take back what he did.”
Although the prosecutor’s office does not have the authority to take any action regarding Miller’s pension, Mueller said authorities have notified the state’s Division of Pensions and Benefits, which would be the agency to make a determination about it.