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Memorial Scholarship: Andrew K. Ruotolo Jr.

Andrew K. Ruotolo, Jr. (1952‑1995)

Andrew K. Ruotolo, Jr., known to his friends and colleagues as Drew, was a "great person", a "fine prosecutor" and a "wonderful friend."

Drew Ruotolo was born on November 5, 1952. He attended Westfield High School where he earned All‑American honors as a swimmer. He then attended Amherst College, where he graduated with honors in 1974. In 1978, he received his law degree from Fordham University Law School.

He joined the U.S. Attorney's Office in 1981, working in the criminal division and handling a number of high profile cases. Thereafter, he worked in private practice in Mountainside, specializing in criminal and civil litigation. He was a certified Criminal Trial Attorney and a Master with the Richard J Hughes American Inn of Court Program

In 1991, at age 38, he took the oath of office as Prosecutor of Union County. In four short years, Prosecutor Ruotolo implemented a number of initiatives. He established an Anti‑Bias Unit to effectively combat hate crimes and personally handled the first jury trial of a bias crime indictment ever prosecuted in New Jersey. He developed the first Human Relations Commission in Union County, established the first full‑time Domestic Violence Unit in the County and directed a countywide protocol for rape victims.

Prosecutor Ruotolo is widely credited for his efforts to help create the Essex‑Union Auto Theft Task Force. After only two years, the task force of 23 police officers and detectives from both counties joined state troopers in making hundreds of arrests for stolen vehicles with a net reduction of 20% in car thefts. Juvenile law issues were a major concern of his. He served for nearly 10 years helping troubled youth on the Juvenile Conference Committee. As Prosecutor, he expanded the size of the Juvenile Unit, worked on several initiatives to combat violence among youth and created the first ever Prosecutor‑sponsored Youth Academy for first time offenders.

Of all his accomplishments, he will perhaps be best known for the creation of the Union County Child Advocacy Center, dedicated on July 11, 1995. The Center provides a "safe haven" inside a refurbished home in Elizabeth where scarred child abuse victims come to begin the healing process while providing evidence to prosecute their abusers.
Prosecutor Ruotolo died at age 42 at the end of a brave and courageous six‑month battle with cancer. While his list of awards and recognitions could fill several pages, the underlying theme in all his accomplishments was a deep love for people and a commitment to improve the human condition of those who were victimized by circumstances beyond their control.