While he cited the action was only being taken “out of an abundance of caution,” state Attorney General Gurbir Grewal has moved any further investigation into a rape case involving a top Trenton official out of Hudson County.
By John Heinis/Hudson County View
“Earlier this month, the Hudson County Prosecutor’s Office (HCPO) received a media inquiry
about a criminal investigation involving Mr. Albert J. Alvarez. HCPO obtained and reviewed the case file, which showed that the investigation of Mr. Alvarez was opened and closed in 2017,” said AG spokeswoman Sharon Lauchaire.
“The file further indicated that the matter was investigated by career detectives and reviewed by veteran special victims prosecutors. Like most cases of this nature, it was opened and closed without involvement by Hudson County Prosecutor Esther Suarez or members of her executive leadership team.”
In an explosive interview with The Wall Street Journal, Brennan, the chief of staff at the New Jersey Housing and Mortgage Finance Agency, that Albert Alvarez, the former chief of the state Schools Development Authority, had raped her during the 2017 gubernatorial campaign.
She expressed disappointment that both the Hudson County Prosecutor’s Office had opted not to file charges and that the governor’s office had largely ignored her pleas for help.
Minutes after the story broke, chatter began that Suarez had been friends with Alvarez for years and a published report indicated that she also had a personal relationship with Brennan, leaving many to wonder why her office still investigated the case.
A spokesman for the HCPO deferred comment to the AG’s office, only stating that “the office of the Hudson County Prosecutor doesn’t comment on investigations.”
Through Lauchaire, Grewal further explained the timetable of events and why the case would now be moved far out of Hudson County.
“During that review of the file earlier this month, however, Prosecutor Suarez realized that she personally knew both the complainant and the subject of the investigation. Although these personal relationships in no way affected the investigation that was conducted in 2017, Prosecutor Suarez decided – out of an abundance of caution – to request that the Division of Criminal Justice supersede the case,” she said.
“DCJ agreed to that request and re-assigned the matter to the Middlesex County Prosecutor’s Office (MCPO) last week. MCPO detectives are reviewing the case file and will
take any additional investigative steps they deem appropriate.”
Yesterday, Murphy released a statement saying he believed all the appropriate actions were taken in handling Brennan’s allegations, though he regretted that Alvarez got hired at the SDA.
Earlier this afternoon, the governor called for an independent investigation into how Alvarez received his job in Trenton.
Prior to that announcement, two Republican leaders in the state senate called for a probe into Murphy’s hiring practices.