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George Stewart

Summary of Camden Misconduct
On September 4, 2008, police officers in Camden, New Jersey, arrested 28-year-old George Stewart and charged him with two counts of possession of a controlled substance.

Stewart pled guilty to the charges in Camden County Superior Court on April 20, 2009 and was later sentenced to two years in prison.

In March 19, 2010, the U.S. Department of Justice began bringing indictments against five Camden officers, charging them with a wide range of crimes and civil-rights violations, including planting evidence, falsification of reports, perjury and theft.

The indictments followed an investigation by the FBI into the department after the Camden County Office of the Public Defender asked the Camden police department’s Internal Affairs unit to examine complaints about officer misconduct more vigorously. In later litigation, plaintiffs alleged that the officers’ actions went undetected because of a breakdown in internal affairs, which was understaffed and used antiquated systems.

Three of the officers – Parry, Stetser, and their supervisor, Dan Morris – pled guilty. The other two – Figueroa and Robert Bayard – went to trial. Figueroa was convicted; Bayard was acquitted.

Even before the first indictment against the officers, the Camden County Prosecutor had begun filing motions to vacate convictions and dismiss charges against defendants whose convictions were tainted by the apparent misconduct. Rather than waiting for individuals to come forward, the prosecutor’s office audited cases and then dismissed those that relied on the testimony or reports of the officers. As word of the dismissals spread, other potential victims of the officers’ misconduct came forward.

Ultimately, judges threw out convictions and granted dismissals for more than 50 defendants. A judge vacated Stewart’s conviction and dismissed his indictment on December 18, 2009. For reasons that aren’t clear from the available records, Stewart wasn’t released from prison until March 29, 2010.

Following the indictments, defendants began filing lawsuits against the city and the officers for violations of their civil rights. The lead lawsuit was filed on July 29, 2010 by the New Jersey chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union on behalf of Joel Barnes. It was eventually joined with lawsuits filed in state and federal court by Stewart and 86 other persons, including several who were never convicted and had their charges dismissed after the misconduct by the officers was brought to light.

Stewart said in his lawsuit that Parry and Stetser entered his home without a warrant and Stetser demanded “Where is the stuff?” Stewart said he responded by telling the officers he had no drugs in the house. He said Stetser later told him, “You are not going to tell us where the stuff is – well you are wearing this.” Stewart said Stetser then pulled out a bag from his police car of what appeared to be drugs and showed them to Stewart. In addition, Stewart said that several of the officers testified falsely before a grand jury.

The lawsuits were settled on January 10, 2013, with the defendants sharing $3.5 million. Separately, 16 defendants also received compensation totaling $649,000 from the State of New Jersey for their wrongful convictions. Stewart also filed for state compensation for his wrongful conviction, receiving $32,086.

– Ken Otterbourg

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Posting Date: 9/6/2022
Last Updated: 9/6/2022
State:New Jersey
Most Serious Crime:Drug Possession or Sale
Additional Convictions:
Reported Crime Date:2008
Sentence:2 years
Age at the date of reported crime:28
Contributing Factors:Perjury or False Accusation, Official Misconduct
Did DNA evidence contribute to the exoneration?:No