Hudson County Prosecutor Esther Suarez says she stands by her decision not to charge Albert Alvarez after rape allegations emerged, also claiming she did not know about the case until this month.
By John Heinis/Hudson County View
“I stand behind the investigation conducted by the Hudson County Prosecutor’s Office in reaching a decision not to charge the suspect Alberto Alvarez,” she began in a statement.
“I stand by the work performed by the members of the Hudson County Prosecutor’s Office and I am extremely proud of their professionalism. During my three years as Hudson County Prosecutor I have been nothing but impressed with the dedication of the professionals in our Office and their concern for justice.
This investigation has only strengthened that belief. The four (4) Investigators and two (2) Supervising Assistant Prosecutors involved in this investigation share a combined total of nearly 85 years of experience.”
Suarez and her office has come under fire since Katie Brennan, the chief of staff at the New Jersey Housing and Mortgage Finance Agency, went public with allegations that Albert Alvarez, the head of the state Schools Development Agency until recently, raped her during last year’s gubernatorial campaign.
Brennan told The Wall Street Journal that the Hudson County Prosecutor’s Office dismissed the case last year since they did not believe that had enough evidence for a jury to indict Alvarez.
“Upon review, it is abundantly clear that everyone involved with this case handled the investigation properly and behaved like the seasoned professionals that they are. I was not made aware of the parties involved or their workplace while this matter was under investigation, between April, 2017 and November, 2017,” Suarez continued.
“Considering the incredibly high case volume in Hudson County, this was standard procedure for the office. It was only after being contacted by a reporter with the WSJ the following year, October 2, 2018, that I became aware of this investigation and the parties involved. It was on this date when I first had a discussion with the Attorney General’s office about this matter.”
On Tuesday, New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir Grewal announced that the case would be reopened and investigated by the Middlesex County Prosecutor’s Office, citing conflict of interest statutes, though also seemed to indicate that Suarez had done nothing wrong.
“It was also during that same conversation that I advised the Attorney General’s Office of my familiarity with both individuals. To reiterate the information that came out of the Office of the Attorney General earlier this week, a review of this case file was conducted following a media inquiry to my office earlier this month,” she revealed.
“I decided, out of an abundance of caution, to request that Division of Criminal Justice supersede the case because of my familiarity with both parties in this matter. DCJ agreed to the request and the matter was referred to the Middlesex County Prosecutor’s Office for a second review.”
Suarez said that she remains confident the case was handled professionally by her staff and any further review is welcome, adding “the implication that I would have interfered in any case to bring forth an improper result is both offensive and irresponsible.”
“If I am called to speak with the special bipartisan committee I will gladly answer whatever questions they may have on this matter. I anxiously await the opportunity to defend this Office and stop the misinformation.”
Yesterday, state Senate President Steve Sweeney (D-3) and Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin (D-19) announced that the legislature would be probing how Alvarez was hired by the state this year, despite the rape allegation dating back to April 2017.
The prosecutor concluded by saying that she will not be commenting further until the MCPO’s review of the case is complete.
“In fairness to the Middlesex County Prosecutor’s Office, it would be premature to for me or my Office to make any statement about this case until the MCPO has had the opportunity to independently review this case. I will refrain from any further comment until such time that the MCPO has fully completed its review of this matter.”
Shortly after Suarez’s statement was issued, a spokeswoman for Brennan issued a statement that confirmed she met with Suarez back on August 30th, 2018, for the first and only time.
“Ms. Brennan met Prosecutor Suarez on August 30th, 2018 for the first and only time. She did not know the prosecutor during the handling of her case, which was closed on Dec 1, 2017,” according to Joanna Klonsky.
“During the course of the Hudson County Prosecutor’s Office’s investigation, Ms. Brennan spoke only with Assistant Prosecutor Jane Wiener and Detective Kristin Mikulak.”
She added that Brennan is yet to contacted by the Middlesex County Prosecutor’s Office.
Editor’s Note: This story has been updated with a comment from Joanna Klonsky, a spokeswoman for Katie Brennan.