First veteran graduates from diversion program through Middlesex County Prosecutor’s Office

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A veteran of the U.S. Army is the first person to graduate from the Middlesex County Prosecutor’s Office (MCPO) Veteran’s Diversion Program (VDP).

The MCPO established the VDP for active and former service members who are charged with nonviolent third and fourth degree offenses and who are suffering from a mental health condition, according to information provided by Middlesex County Acting Prosecutor Christopher L.C. Kuberiet. Veterans may be eligible for diversion to mental health and rehabilitative treatment rather than face traditional criminal prosecution.

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The graduation held on Dec. 6 in New Brunswick recognized the first veteran who has completed the program in Middlesex County, a 43-year-old U.S. Army veteran, whose identity was protected. The Honorable Robert Jones officiated at the ceremony, where the veteran was presented with a framed certificate, according to the statement. He was the first veteran admitted into the program in November 2018.

More than 30 people, including Superior Court judges, members of the Middlesex County Prosecutor’s Office, Middlesex County officials, mental health professionals, attorneys, representatives of veterans’ organizations and mentors involved in the VDP attended the ceremony at the Middlesex County Superior Court, according to the statement.

A veteran who successfully completes the terms and conditions of this program, which are memorialized in a court order, has not been subject of any subsequent criminal charges, and continues to make progress with mental health and/or substance abuse treatment may have his/her charges dismissed. In this case, indictable charges were dismissed by the Superior Court upon the successful completion of the program, according to the statement.

VDP applications and more information are available on the MCPO website.

One of the requirements of the VDP is to have volunteer mentors who are assigned to a defendant provide mentorship, advocacy and support. These mentors encourage, guide, and support the client as they progress through the court process and treatment programs, according to the statement.

The Army graduate had two mentors, a U.S. Navy veteran and a U.S. Marine veteran, who volunteered their time to assist the defendant in his interactions with the court, the Prosecutor’s Office, and his mental health providers, according to the statement.

The MCPO is continually seeking veterans to serve as mentors. For more information, contact Detective Ivis Molina at 732-745-4214 or email mcpoveterans@co.middlesex.nj.us.

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