PATERSON, N.J. — A former New Jersey police officer who pleaded guilty to recording a video of his partner’s attack on a suicide patient at a hospital emergency room was sentenced to six months in federal prison Tuesday.
Roger Then’s lawyer, John McGovern, had asked U.S. District Court Judge William Walls to give Then probation, while Assistant U.S. Attorney Rahul Agarwal said the convicted former officer should get the maximum six-month term under federal sentencing guidelines.
At the time of his guilty plea, federal authorities had said Then, formerly a Paterson police officer, faced up to three years in prison and a maximum fine of $250,000. The penalties have since changed based on sentencing reports done in the meantime, officials said.
Walls said he initially was inclined to give Then a lesser penalty but decided to go with the maximum sentence because of his status as a police officer and his failure to report the attack.
“You’re going to jail because you let us – society – down,” Walls said to Then during the sentencing in Newark, New Jersey.
“You cannot hide behind a wall of non-revelation because you are part of a group of those that possess blue blood,” the judge said. “You have to pay the price so hopefully others won’t do what you did.”
Then’s wife, who was sitting in the courtroom, broke into tears when the judge announced the sentence. The convicted officer, a member of the Army National Guard, has three children, according to his lawyer.
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During the proceeding, Then said he didn’t report the attack because he was “afraid” of what his fellow officers would think of him for “telling on” his partner.
Then also admitted during his guilty plea in December to participating in the assault by grabbing the patient while he was in a wheelchair and pushing down, and then covering up the attack by filing false police reports.
Then’s partner, Ruben McAusland, was sentenced last week to 66 months in federal prison. In addition to the hospital assault, McAusland admitted selling heroin, cocaine and marijuana, in some instances while on duty, in uniform, and from his marked police vehicle.
Then has not been named in any of the drug-dealing charges. The two officers were terminated from the Paterson police department last year after their guilty pleas. They are among six Paterson police officers arrested as part of an FBI probe that started at the end of 2017.
The other four officers have been accused of making illegal traffic stops and then taking cash from the vehicles’ occupants. One of the four, Jonathan Bustios, pleaded guilty last year and is awaiting sentencing. Charges are pending against the remaining three: Daniel Pent, Eudy Ramos and Matthew Torres.
Federal authorities have said in court papers that a seventh officer was part of the shakedown conspiracy and has agreed to be a confidential witness in the case. Authorities have not revealed his name.
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