A prison guard in Monmouth County was having a romantic relationship with an inmate and provided him with a cell phone so they could stay in touch, according to authorities.

The Monmouth County Prosecutor's Office on Thursday announced a criminal charge against 51-year-old Latonya Johnson, a guard at the Monmouth County Correctional Institution in Freehold, for knowingly providing an electronic communication device to an inmate.

Johnson brought the phone into the jail sometime between May and October 2022, according to the prosecutor's office.

Johnson was charged on Jan. 23, and her first court appearance is scheduled for Mar. 7.

"Sworn members of law enforcement are rightfully held to a higher standard of conduct, and when they fall short of that standard, straying into criminal behavior, swift and decisive action becomes imperative," Monmouth County Prosecutor Raymond Santiago said.

Johnson's second-degree charge can be punishable by up to 10 years in prison.

Dino Flammia is a reporter for New Jersey 101.5. You can reach him at dino.flammia@townsquaremedia.com

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