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N.J. guard acquitted in prisoner suicide case

Tabatha Roman, 37, was cleared of charges in connection with a prisoner’s 2017 suicide

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Cumberland County plans to build a new jail were scuttled in 2020.

Bill Gallo Jr/TNS

By Joseph Wilkinson
New York Daily News

BRIDGETON, N.J. — A New Jersey jail guard who faced criminal charges in connection with a prisoner’s suicide was acquitted this week, seven years after the incident.

Tabatha Roman, 37, was cleared in a bench trial in Cumberland County, NJ.com reported.

Roman had faced a charge of third-degree endangering another person in connection with the death of Megan Moore at Cumberland County Jail on Feb. 20, 2017. Moore was 21.

Prosecutors said Roman didn’t perform necessary checks on Moore during her shift at the jail. A neighboring prisoner said she heard Moore crying for days before she was found hanging in her cell.

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“She would still be living if [corrections officers] had done what they had to do,” the woman told the Philadelphia Inquirer in 2018.

Between July 2014 and May 2017, seven prisoners died by suicide in Cumberland County Jail, sparking a federal investigation and eventual consent decree. The county settled a civil lawsuit from Moore’s family for $500,000 and eventually agreed to pay $2.3 million to the families of the seven deceased prisoners.

“It was our duty to seek justice on behalf of Megan N. Moore who died by suicide under Ms. Roman’s care and watch,” Cumberland County Prosecutor Jennifer Webb-McRae told NJ.com on Wednesday.

Though Roman was indicted in 2017, her case was delayed for years. The civil lawsuit was settled in June 2022.

“It was a tragic situation,” Roman’s attorney, Michael Testa, told NJ.com. “But the answer isn’t to try to find a fall person to take responsibility.”

Shortly after Moore’s death, Cumberland County announced plans to construct a new jail. Despite a groundbreaking ceremony in October 2019, plans for the new jail were scuttled in 2020.

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