BRIDGETON -- Three Cumberland County corrections officers are facing criminal charges in connection with two different suicide deaths that happened at the Cumberland County Jail in 2017.
A grand jury indicted 31-year old Tabatha Roman of Vineland with third-degree endangering another person while charges were filed against 27-year-old Nicolas Gomez of Millville and 40-year-old Justin Cimino of Vineland. Both were charged with third-degree tampering with public records and third-degree endangering another person.
Roman was indicted on one count of endangering another person in connection with the Feb 20. hanging suicide of 21-year-old Megan Moore. In a press release from Cumberland County Prosecutor Jennifer Webb-McRae, Roman is accused of "conduct which created a substantial risk in the death of another person."
Cimino and Gomez allegedly made false entries on a "close watch form" and incident forms filed with the Cumberland County Department of Corrections in connection with the hanging suicide of 32-year-old David Conroy, who was also found dead from hanging in his cell. The two were also accused of "engaging a substantial risk of death" in connection with Conroy's death.
Victor Bermudez, president of PBA Local 231, the corrections unit for the Cumberland County Jail, released a statement about the charges and indictment.
"Critical incidents, such as suicides, are always difficult for all parties involved where nobody wins," Bermudez said. "It's an unfortunate part of the service officers are asked to perform when families lose loved ones which is difficult for us also. PBA Local 231 stands by its officers with confidence during the ongoing proceedings. Our hearts go out to those for their losses but ask for patience until the totality of the facts can be reported. The PBA has been proactive in suggesting adopting protocols and resources successfully exercised by other institutions, striving to provide a safe and secure environment. Even if improvements are needed and welcomed, that does not equate with anything criminal taking place."
Stuart Alterman of Alterman and Associates is the attorney who will be representing officers Cimino and Roman.
"We think that the charges have no merit," Alterman said. "We think that these officers were absolutely on the jail's A-team and they did their jobs up to and including the legitimate expectations of the employer with the tools and the training they were provided by the jail. Despite specific deficiencies, they did perform their jobs and these charges are an insult. Officer Roman is another issue where she did exactly what she was supposed to do and they are attempting to deflect responsibility."
Within the past two years, a total of at least six suicides have happened in the jail. The county is currently being sued as a result of the deaths. The county has created plans to make a new jail that is anticipated to open in 2020.
Cimino, Gomez and Roman have all been suspended without pay. The three are out on bond and are awaiting court dates.