The New York State Trooper accused of “catfishing” multiple woman over the internet and threatening them with exposure has been indicted on coercion charges on Long Island.
Jennifer Daignault, 31, of Merrick Road, Rome, pleaded not guilty in Nassau County Court on Monday to one count of first-degree coercion and two counts of second-degree coercion, court officials said.
She was released on her own recognizance and her case was adjourned to Sept. 23.
“Catfishing” is the term to describe posing as another person over the internet to trick an unsuspecting victim.
Daignault is facing similar charges in Rome City Court.
According to the Nassau County District Attorney’s Office, Daignault was posing as a man and had a text-only relationship with a 33-year-old woman living in Nassau County between May 1 and July 31 2018.
Officials said Daignault met the woman via the online dating website Plenty of Fish.
Authorities said the victim sent Daignault numerous naked photographs of herself, and Daignault used those photos to blackmail the victim.
Authorities said Daignault threatened to post the intimate photos on the internet if the victim didn’t travel to New York City to purchase fake identification for Daignault.
Following an investigation, Daignault was taken into custody on Sept. 13, 2018. Her case remained ongoing until she was indicted by a grand jury on July 31, 2019.
“This case highlights the need to be cautious when using online dating platforms and to limit the amount of personal information you share before meeting in person or speaking on the phone,” warned Nassau County District Attorney Madeline Singas in a statement.
State police officials said Daignault remains suspended with pay. Daignault graduated from the State Police Academy in 2016.
Separate from the case in Nassau County, Daignault is charged in Rome City Court with second-degree coercion and second-degree aggravated harassment. Court officials said she is next scheduled to appear on Aug. 27 for a conference.
According to Rome Police, Daignault created several different identities over the internet between November 2016 and May 2018 and harassed a Rome woman. Police said the woman also shared intimate material with Daignault, and they said Daignault threatened to post that material on the internet if the victim stopped communicating with Daignault.
In a statement the victim gave to police, the victim said she and Daignault both graduated Rome Free Academy in 2005. The victim told police that she started chatting over the internet with a person claiming to be a man named “Michael” in 2003, and that relationship became more abusive as the years went on. The victim said this “Michael” harassed her for 15 years, calling it a “nightmare.”
Daignault was charged with the Rome case in December 2018.