TRENTON, N.J. (PBN) Attorney General Matthew J. Platkin and the Office of Public Integrity and Accountability (OPIA) announced Thursday a state grand jury has voted to file criminal charges against a correctional police officer with the Mercer County Department of Corrections after he allegedly accepted bribes for several years in exchange for providing inmates with illegal drugs, tobacco products, and other contraband. Tyree L. Hobbs, 39, of Hamilton, New Jersey, was indicted last month on four criminal counts, including official misconduct charges, by New Jersey residents serving on the grand jury. The charges and allegations are merely accusations, and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty in a court of law. Hobbs was charged by complaint on June 14, 2023, following an investigation by OPIA that found the officer was periodically taking bribes from inmates between approximately November 2017 and July 2022, when he was suspended without pay. “As alleged, the defendant put personal profit ahead of his duty to protect inmates, his fellow officers, and the public,” said Attorney General Platkin. “We will continue to hold accountable those who illegally violate the public’s trust.” “The bribe payments the defendant was allegedly receiving have come with a high price, causing him to be suspended by his employer and now indicted by a grand jury,” said Thomas Eicher, Executive Director of OPIA. “Smuggling any contraband into a secure facility puts corrections officers and residents at risk and will not be tolerated.”

According to the complaint, the criminal conduct began roughly 10 months after Hobbs joined the Mercer County Department of Corrections in February 2017. The investigation revealed Hobbs would periodically accept bribes for hundreds and sometimes thousands of dollars to smuggle in packages for inmates containing a variety of contraband, typically illicit narcotics and tobacco, into the Mercer County Correction Center (MCCC) in Hopewell Township. Evidence gathered during the investigation showed Hobbs functioned as a courier, receiving sealed packages outside the MCCC from inmate affiliates — packages he would then bring into the facility and hide in locations accessible to the inmates for whom the deliveries were intended. During the course of the investigation, it was determined that Hobbs would receive anywhere from $300 to $2,500 in bribes for each such delivery, paid to him either in cash or via mobile money-transfer apps. It is alleged that the defendant’s conduct violated state regulations as well as policies of the Mercer County DOC that prohibit the possession, sale, or use of contraband in the MCCC and that bar officers from establishing a personal relationship with an inmate, from trading and bartering with inmates, and from giving or receiving gifts from any inmate, or any inmate’s relative, friend, or representative.

Hobbs was indicted on the following charges:

• Official misconduct (2nd degree)

• Pattern of official misconduct (2nd degree)

• Bribery in official and political matters (2nd degree)

• Acceptance or receipt of an unlawful benefit by a public servant (2nd degree)

Second-degree charges each carry a sentence of five to 10 years in state prison and a fine of up to $150,000.

The case is being prosecuted by OPIA Deputy Attorney General Brian Uzdavinis, under the supervision of Corruption Bureau Chief Peter Lee, OPIA Deputy Director Anthony Picione, and OPIA Director Eicher. Defense counsel Stuart J. Alterman of Alterman & Associates, Marlton, New Jersey

Thomas Peterson is the Editor in Chief and founder of Peterson’s Breaking News of Trenton. Thomas founded PBT in 2012.