UNION COUNTY, NJ — Former Union County Assistant Prosecutor Lyndsay V. Ruotolo has been named to replace Jennifer Davenport as acting prosecutor in the county, becoming the third person to hold the title in less than three months, and the sixth in less than two years.
The state Attorney General’s Office announced the appointment in a release on July 11, saying Davenport, who was appointed on an interim basis on April 26, will return to Trenton to resume her full-time role as first assistant attorney general.
Joseph Walsh, who was appointed along with Davenport to the Union County Prosecutor’s Office on a temporary basis, will remain to oversee the internal affairs function within the Elizabeth Police Department.
Ruotolo, who most recently served as an assistant U.S. attorney for the district of New Jersey, has extensive experience in prosecuting violent crime and drug offenses, both at the U.S. Attorney’s Office and as an assistant prosecutor in the Union County Prosecutor’s Office, the release said.
She joined the U.S. Attorney’s Office in September 2018, and has participated in the office’s violent crime initiative and handled criminal investigations and prosecutions. Previously, Ruotolo was an assistant prosecutor and special deputy attorney general in the Union County Prosecutor’s Office for nearly five years.
Ruotolo follows Davenport; Grace Park, who resigned in 2017; Thomas Isenhour; Ann Luvera, and Michael Monahan. Union County has not had an attorney with the full prosecutor title since Theodore Romankow served in the role from 2002 to 2013.
Davenport was installed at the end of April in the wake of an investigation by the county Prosecutor’s Office that confirmed Elizabeth Police Director James Cosgrove had used derogatory terms to refer to staff. In the announcement of Davenport’s appointment, N.J. Attorney General Gurbir Grewal said she was charged with exercising “appropriate oversight” of the Elizabeth Police Department and called on Cosgrove to resign.
Cosgrove resigned in early May after more than 20 years as police director and was replaced in late June by Earl Graves, a former East Orange police officer and UCPO detective.
During her tenure at the UCPO, Ruotolo was one of four attorneys assigned to the Guns, Gangs, Drugs, and Violent Crimes Task Force. She also spearheaded Union County’s first Operation Helping Hand, a coordinated effort by law enforcement and service providers to provide addiction intervention for struggling opioid users.
“She’s a tough prosecutor who has prosecuted violent gang members, drug dealers, sex offenders, and carjackers,” Grewal is quoted as saying in the release. “At the same time, when called upon to help drug users struggling with opioid addiction by leading Operation Helping Hand in Union County, she brought an extraordinary level of compassion and enthusiasm to that role.”
Ruotolo’s family is well known to Union County. Her mother, Mary Ruotolo, served as a member of the Union County Board of Chosen Freeholders from 1999 until 2004, and her father, Drew Ruotolo, served as Union County prosecutor from 1991 until his death in 1995.
As an assistant U.S. attorney, Ruotolo has been assigned to the Violent Crimes Enforcement Unit, conducting long-term investigations and coordinating the efforts of law enforcement officers from various federal and local agencies to identify and proactively prosecute those responsible for violent crimes in and around Newark.
In addition, she has managed a caseload of prosecutions pending in court as well as other active investigations into crimes such as carjacking, drug distribution, robbery and weapons offenses.
Ruotolo served as an assistant prosecutor in the Union County Prosecutor’s Office from February 2014 through August 2018. Prior to becoming a prosecutor, Ruotolo was an associate at the law firm of McElroy, Deutsch, Mulvaney & Carpenter, from September 2010 through January 2014. She earned a bachelor’s degree from New York University, and her law degree from New York Law School.