Man Indicted for the Murder of Three Year Old and Assault of Female

Morris County Prosecutor Fredric M. Knapp announces that the Morris County Grand Jury has returned an Indictment against Maurice Pearson, age 27, with a last known address of 55A Route 46 East, Pine Brook, New Jersey, and formerly of Altoona, Pennsylvania, charging him with Murder, a crime of the first degree, related to the alleged beating death of his then-girlfriend’s three year old son in April 2015.

The Indictment also charges Pearson with various additional crimes related to his alleged conduct towards the three year old child, including Aggravated Assault, a crime of the second degree, Endangering the Welfare of a Child, a crime of the second degree, Possession of a Weapon for an Unlawful Purpose, a crime of the third degree, and Unlawful Possession of a Weapon, a crime of the fourth degree.

Pearson was also indicted on the charge of Aggravated Assault, a crime of the third degree, related to the alleged assault of the mother of the same three year old child.

Finally, Pearson was indicted on the charge of Hindering His Own Apprehension, for allegedly proving false information to law enforcement during the course of this investigation.

Pearson is currently in custody at the Morris County Correctional Facility, with a bail set at $1,000,000 cash, bond or property.

This case is being handled by Chief Assistant Prosecutor Matthew Troiano.

Prosecutor Knapp would like to thank members of the Montville Police Department, Morris County Prosecutor’s Office Major Crimes Unit and Sex Crimes/Child Endangerment Unit, the Morris County Sheriff’s Office – Criminal Investigation Section, the Fairfield Police Department, and the Altoona (PA) Police Department who have contributed to this ongoing investigation and prosecution.

If anyone has any information related to this investigation, they are encouraged to call the Major Crimes Unit of the Morris County Prosecutor’s Office at 973-285-6200.

Despite this Indictment, the Defendant is presumed innocent unless and until he has been proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.

Any inquiries can be directed to Deputy Chief Denise H. Arseneault at 973-285-6262 or [email protected].

                                                                     

 

Bookkeeper Pleads Guilty To Theft

Morris County Prosecutor Fredric M. Knapp announces that Frank LaRocca, age 40 of Hackettstown, New Jersey, pled guilty today to an Accusation charging him with one count of second degree Theft by Unlawful Taking in violation of N.J.S. 2C:20-3(a).

Defendant was a bookkeeper who was hired by the victim to pay his bills and manage his bank account. In pleading guilty, the defendant admitted to unlawfully taking funds belonging to the victim, in the amount of $170,805.61. During his plea, the defendant admitted that he unlawfully took funds from the victim’s account to pay for his own personal expenses knowing that he was not authorized to do so.

Under the terms of the plea agreement, the defendant agreed to sign a consent judgement and pay restitution to the victim in the amount of $170,805.61. The State will recommend that the defendant be sentenced to a three (3) year prison term.

Supervising Assistant Prosecutor Francine S. Ehrenberg represented the State in this matter.

The Honorable James M. DeMarzo, J.S.C., presided over the plea. The defendant is scheduled to be sentenced May 13, 2016.

The defendant’s wife, Jennifer LaRocca, age 40 of Hackettstown, New Jersey, pled guilty on February 10, 2016 to one (1) count of third degree Theft in violation of N.J.S. 2C:20-3(a). Under the terms of Mrs. LaRocca’s plea agreement, she signed a consent judgement and will pay restitution to the victim in the amount of $170,805.61, for which both defendants are jointly and individually responsible. Mrs. LaRocca is scheduled to be sentenced on April 1, 2016.

Prosecutor Knapp thanks the Financial Crimes Unit of the Morris County Prosecutor’s Office who assisted in the investigation and the resolution of this matter.

Any inquiries can be directed to Deputy Chief Denise H. Arseneault at [email protected] or (973)285-6262.

West Morris Mendham High School Teacher Pleads Guilty to Official Misconduct

Morris County Prosecutor Fredric M. Knapp announces that Nicole McDonough, age 33, of Mount Olive Township, New Jersey, pleaded guilty today to one count of Official Misconduct, a crime of the second degree, and was admitted into the Pre Trial Intervention program.

In pleading guilty, Defendant admitted that during the timeframe of May 2014 to June 2014, she was employed as a teacher with the West Morris Mendham High School. During this timeframe, she admitted to engaging in a sexual relationship with an eighteen (18) year old student from West Morris Mendham High School.  Defendant admitted to engaging in sexual encounters with this student on two (2) separate occasions, both of which occurred in Mt. Olive.  Defendant also admitted that she was aware of policies within the West Morris Regional High School District that required teachers to maintain a professional relationship with students and that her conduct violated those policies.  She also admitted that she gained a personal benefit from the sexual relationship.

Under the terms of the plea agreement, Defendant agreed to voluntarily relinquish her teaching certificates, to immediately resign her teaching position with the West Morris Regional High School District, and to permanent disqualification from public employment.

Additionally, the State agreed to dismiss the remaining counts of the Indictment. Pursuant to the terms of the plea agreement, Defendant was admitted into Pre Trial Intervention (“PTI”) for a period of three (3) years.  The State agreed to Defendant’s admission.

The Honorable Stephen J. Taylor, P.J.Cr., presided over the plea.

Assistant Prosecutor Christopher Schellhorn represented the State.

Prosecutor Knapp would like to thank the Mendham Borough Police Department, the Morris County Sheriff’s Office – Criminal Investigations Section, and the Morris County Prosecutor’s Office Sex Crimes/Child Endangerment Unit whose efforts contributed to the investigation and resolution of the matter.

Any inquiries can be directed to Deputy Chief Denise H. Arseneault at [email protected] or (973) 285-6262.