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Judge wants arson, murder trial to begin in spring

By KATHY CHANG
Staff Writer

EDISON — Calling the case “old,” Middlesex County Superior Court Judge Pedro Jimenez, sitting in New Brunswick, called on the state and the attorney for former Edison Police Officer Michael Dotro to get discovery and other issues in order regarding charges relating to attempted murder for allegedly setting fire to his police captain’s home in Monroe in 2013.

“I would like to move [this case] sooner rather than later,” he said.

Dotro, with his Westfield-based attorney Robert Norton, appeared before Jimenez in the Middlesex County Courthouse on Jan. 20 to discuss motion briefs that were filed to dismiss the lesser charges that were filed against him that came out of the attempted murder investigation.

The charges, which are also filed against his wife, Alycia Dotro, include official misconduct, conspiracy and criminal mischief on March 17, 2013 for slashing the tires of a car owned by an Edison woman.

In 2014, Dotro, who had been a nine-year veteran of the Edison Police Department, was charged with unlawful access to a computer system and unlawful disclosure of computer system data in 2013 between March 17 and March 20. He is also accused of checking police records and notifying his wife of any reports on the slashing.

Alycia Dotro appeared alongside her husband with her attorney, Richard E. Incremona, of Helmer, Conley & Kasselman, P.A. in Freehold, to discuss motions to dismiss the charges against her.

Incremona said there are three text messages in question from Alycia Dotro to her husband — “No gossip?” “Can you read it?” and “Nobody gossiping?” which the state has drawn inferences that Michael Dotro then inappropriately utilized the police computer system database to read the police report in relation to the tire-slashing incident.

In Dotro’s text message response he stated, “I read it.”

A police officer has to use a login/password to access the database.

Middlesex County Assistant Prosecutor Russell Curley said the state is fair to infer that Dotro accessed the police computer system database.

The next court date is scheduled for 9 a.m. March 17. Jimenez said by then he would have made his decision, which he said would be in writing, on the motions.

He called on the state and Norton to have in order a negotiated plea on the remaining charges against Michael Dotro or the preparation of a trial memorandum.

Jimenez said if the case were to go to trial, he would like it to be before June 30. He said it might be aggressive, but he would like the trial to begin in April and May.

Dotro is also charged with two counts of having prohibited devices, possession of an imitation firearm and official misconduct for allegedly carrying brass knuckles, an imitation weapon, a small club known as a “blackjack,” a small quantity of marijuana and a device used to smoke marijuana, all of which were discovered in his police duty bag on May 23, 2013, according to the indictment.

In May 2013, Dotro had been charged with five counts of attempted murder and one count of aggravated arson for allegedly setting fire to the Monroe home of his superior officer, Mark Anderko, who is now retired.

Anderko was home at the time, along with his wife, two children and his mother. No one was injured.

Along with the five counts of attempted murder, Dotro also faces charges of criminal mischief, unlawful possession of a destructive device used to set the fire, hindering his apprehension or prosecution by providing false information to investigators and retaliation for past official action of the police captain.

In November 2016, two more charges were levied against Dotro for conspiring to commit an aggravated arson on the home of another superior officer and a related count of official misconduct in April 2013, one month prior to the firebombing of Anderko’s home.

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