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Former Edison cops avoid probation

By KATHY CHANG
Staff Writer

NEW BRUNSWICK — Once pillars of society, two of the four Edison police officers who lost their jobs for their involvement in attempting to harass and humiliate a North Brunswick police officer in 2012, may move on with their lives.

With no prior records, Brian Favretto, 41, who once was a 15-year veteran of the Edison Police Department (EPD) and William Gesell, 48, who once was a 22-year veteran of the department, avoided probation, and each had to pay $325 in fines for the disorderly conduct charges at a sentencing hearing at the Middlesex County Courthouse before Superior Court Judge Joseph Paone on Jan. 13.

Favretto with his Nutley-based attorney Anthony Iacullo had asked for mercy from the judge and told him he would like to move on with his life.

Gesell with his Woodbridge-based attorney Darren Gelber followed with a similar request.

“I’m sorry to waste your time,” said Gesell to the judge.

Both former officers, through their attorneys, told Paone they are holding full-time jobs.

Middlesex County Assistant Prosecutor Russell Curley had asked Paone to impose probation sentences to send a message on the serious charges that the former officers had previously faced that revealed a culture of corruption among officers within the Edison Police Department.

Paone said although the charges were serious he felt it was improper to impose probation sentences, which did not meet the criteria for what Gesell and Favretto pleaded guilty to.

Through plea agreements in September 2016, Favretto and Gesell, along with Victor Aravena and Michael Dotro, agreed to forfeit their employment as police officers and will not be able to hold any other public office position in the future in New Jersey.

Dotro, who is expected to be sentenced at 9 a.m. Jan. 20, pleaded guilty to a count of conspiracy, while Favretto, Aravena and Gesell pled guilty to lesser disorderly conduct charges. Dotro was once a nine-year veteran of the EPD.

Curley said Aravena, of Edison, who pleaded guilty to a count of obstruction of the administration of law, will be sentenced at another date. He was once a 13-year veteran of the EPD.

Favretto was sentenced first, and on his way out of the courtroom squeezed the shoulder of Gesell.

On Oct. 24, 2014, a Middlesex County grand jury indicted the four officers with conspiracy and official misconduct. The indictment included 11 counts.

The officers allegedly planned between Jan. 18, 2012 and May 1, 2012 to retaliate against the North Brunswick officer by improperly accessing information about him and performing surveillance of him and his travel habits, according to the Middlesex County Prosecutor’s Office.

In addition, Gesell was charged with unlawfully accessing a police computer system, along with a related count of official misconduct, for seeking information on the North Brunswick officer.

An investigation by the prosecutor determined that the retaliation was planned after the North Brunswick police officer arrested an associate of Dotro on a charge of driving while intoxicated.

Dotro subsequently conspired with his three fellow police officers to retaliate against the North Brunswick officer, according to authorities. No actual retaliation was undertaken.

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