Special Investigations Unit
The Special Investigations Unit of the Somerset County Prosecutor's Office is constituted by seven (7) primary areas of responsibility:
- Official Corruption
- Economic Crimes
- Bias and Hate Crimes
- Environmental Crimes
- Computer Crimes
- Insurance Fraud
Detectives assigned to this unit cross-train in these areas and conduct investigations in each component area effectively. To assist the investigative personnel assigned to this unit, an assistant prosecutor has been designated as a legal advisor. This assistant prosecutor provides guidance insofar as legal issues involving subpoenas, court ordered exemplars, search warrants, electronic interceptions, and ultimately screens the case for criminal charges.
The following is a brief overview of the component areas of investigative responsibility:
- Official Corruption Complaints that are referred to the Somerset County Prosecutor's Office that entail violations of the NJ Criminal Statutes involving the integrity of the elected or appointed governmental officials. These investigations are directed at all positions of governmental employment except police officers, which are investigated by a separate unit within the office (Internal Affairs).
Some of the crimes investigated include official misconduct, thefts, frauds, diversion of government property or services, bribery, sunshine law violations, and the enforcement of election laws.
- Economic Crimes Complex investigations of a financial nature are conducted by this component of the Special Investigations Unit. Most municipal police departments are equipped to handle the more routine matters including bad checks, frauds, and thefts of money; however, the more complex financial crimes are handled by this component. These complex theft and fraud investigations are second-degree crimes (Those wherein over $75,000 or more is stolen).
- Bias and Hate Crimes This component investigates crimes that are committed because of a victim's creed, race, ethnicity, or sex. Additionally, the Somerset County Prosecutor's office monitors the reporting of all bias and hate crimes by the police departments within the County of Somerset.
Hate groups that may operate within the County are identified and tracked.
- Environmental Crimes Joint investigations are conducted with regulatory agencies both on the Federal level (EPA) as well as the state level (DEP) into the enforcement of environmental protection laws. Information is maintained and exchanged with these agencies toxic waste sites, illegal dumping, and the storage and maintenance of hazardous waste locations and hailers.
- Computer Crimes Investigation of computer related crimes, including those through internet use, identity theft, fraud, as well as the pursuit of sexual predators on the internet. A detective has been assigned to the FBI's North East Regional Child Exploitation Task Force (NERCET) also known as "Innocent Images".
- Insurance Fraud Partially funded through a state grant a detective is assigned to investigate criminal violations involving fraud in the reporting of insurance matters.
- Polygraph The Somerset County Prosecutor's Office has two (2) certified polygraph examiners, both are assigned to the Special Investigations Unit (the third examiner is assigned to the Major Crimes Unit). These examiners conduct polygraph examinations for the prosecutor's office, as well as all of the local law enforcement agencies within Somerset County. Requests for polygraph examinations are submitted to the polygraph examiners who then determine the suitability of the case and the test subject for testing. Suitable subjects are tested and a report is provided to the requesting agency outlining the results of the polygraph examination.