MORRIS COUNTY — Morris County Prosecutor Fredric M. Knapp announces that Andrew Pena, age 48, formerly from Hewitt, was charged with various crimes related to his attempts to influence the jury that had been empaneled in his recent Aggravated Sexual Assault trial.
On October 27, a trial commenced involving Pena and continued until a guilty verdict was returned on November 10. Assistant Prosecutor Christopher Schellhorn represented the State during this trial.
A Morris County Jury returned a guilty verdict in the trial of Andrew Pena. The jury returned a verdict of guilty on counts of Aggravated Sexual Assault (a crime of the first degree), Burglary (a crime of the second degree), Sex Assault by Force or Coercion (a crime of the second degree), Criminal Sexual Contact (a crime of the fourth degree) and Criminal Restraint (a crime of the third degree).
Once the guilty verdict was returned, Pena was remanded to the Morris County Correctional Facility and his bail was revoked.
During the pendency of trial, an investigation began into attempts by Pena to influence the jury and obstruct the administration of law. It was ultimately discovered that Pena conspired with another individual, Michael Campbell, 44, of Wharton, to distribute information that was previously deemed inadmissible during trial, in an effort to influence the jury. Confidential documents, provided to Pena in accordance with the Rules of Court, were duplicated, altered, and then disseminated in areas near the Morris County Courthouse.
The investigation also revealed communications between Pena and Campbell detailing their plans to disseminate this information, including which documents were to be used, the manner in which they would be disseminated, the areas they would be disseminated to, the appropriate time to disseminate the information, and the urgency of following through with this conspiracy.
Michael Campbell was arrested by Detectives with the Morris County Prosecutor’s Office on November 5. He was charged with Obstructing Administration of Law or Other Governmental Function (a crime of the fourth degree) in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:29-1(a)(b) and Corrupting or Influencing a Jury (a crime of the third degree) in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:29-8(a)(c). He was subsequently released on a Summons.
On November 17, the Honorable Stephen Taylor, P.J.Cr. authorized charges against Pena for Obstructing Administration of Law or Other Governmental Function (a crime of the fourth degree) in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:29-1(a)(b), Corrupting or Influencing a Jury (a crime of the third degree) in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:29-8(a)(c), and Conspiracy to commit both crimes (crimes of the fourth and third degree, respectively). Bail was set in the amount of $25,000.
Pena is scheduled to be sentenced regarding the guilty verdict on December 4 by the Honorable Stephen Taylor, P.J.Cr.
A court date for Pena’s current charges are yet to be determined.
Prosecutor Knapp would like to thank the Morris County Prosecutor’s Office Major Crimes Unit, as well as the Criminal Investigation Section, the Bureau of Corrections, and the Protective Services Unit of the Morris County Sherriff’s Office for their efforts in this investigation.
Editors Note: A criminal complaint is merely an accusation. Despite this accusation, the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until he or she has been proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.