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Closter Man Facing Marijuana Possession, Distribution Charges After Search of his Home
Posted on April 18, 2014 by Travis Tormey | 0 Comments

closter marijuana caseA man from Closter, New Jersey is currently facing charges for possession and distribution of marijuana, distribution of marijuana in a school zone, and possession of drug paraphernalia, after Closter police recently conducted a search of his home.

According to Dennis Kaine, the Chief of the Closter Police Department, 43-year-old Alexander Drazen was under investigation for 3 months prior to the search conducted at his residence on Piermont Road in Closter. During the search, investigations reportedly discovered 4 ½ pounds of marijuana, as well as THC in liquid form and drug paraphernalia. THC is the primary psychoactive ingredient in marijuana and many of the drug’s effects are attributed to this substance.

Following the search, officers arrested Drazen and charged him with the aforementioned offenses. With regard to the charges he is facing, offenses involving the Manufacture, Distribution, or Dispensation of Marijuana in New Jersey are governed under N.J.S.A. 2C:35-5. According to this statute, it is a crime of the third degree to manufacture, distribute or dispense, or to possess or have under your control with intent to manufacture, distribute or dispense, marijuana in a quantity of one ounce or more but less than five pounds.

Since police reportedly found 4 ½ pounds of marijuana in Drazen’s home, he could be facing a term of incarceration ranging from 3 to 5 years in New Jersey State Prison as well as a fine of up to $25,000.00. In addition, N.J.S.A. 2C:35-7, which pertains to marijuana distribution crimes within a school zone, stipulates that these offenses are also considered crimes of the third degree. Further penalties include a period of parole ineligibility that is fixed at or between one-third and one-half of the sentence imposed, or three years, whichever is greater, as well as a fine of up to $150,000.00.

Clearly, Mr. Drazen is facing significant penalties if he is ultimately convicted of the charges for which he is accused.

For more information regarding this case, access the following article: Closter police seize 4½ pounds of pot, arrest borough man

Two Men Charged in Bergen County for Strict Liability for Drug-Induced Death, As Prosecutors Pursue More Strict Liability Cases
Posted on April 17, 2014 by Travis Tormey | 0 Comments

bergen county heroin od manslaughter caseA Bergen County grand jury recently indicted two men from Bergen County on charges including strict liability for drug-induced death, manslaughter, as well as possession and distribution of heroin, in connection with the fatal heroin overdose of a woman from Emerson, New Jersey.

The seven-count indictment was issued on Tuesday, April 15th against 27-year-old Old Tappan resident Christopher Benvenuto and 26-year-old Closter resident Jessie Kurzweil. The two men are accused of supplying 47-year-old Doreen Leach with the heroin that caused her death on June 11, 2013. Police received a call from another woman who reported the overdose and discovered that Leach was deceased upon arrival.

Authorities believe that Benvenuto injected Leach with the heroin and subsequently fled from her apartment after she appeared to be experiencing an overdose. Further, Kurzweil has been accused of selling the heroin that resulted in Leach’s death. As a result, both have been charged with strict liability for drug-induced death, manslaughter, and possession and distribution of heroin. In addition, Benevenuto is facing charges for hindering apprehension or prosecution.

According to Bergen County Prosecutor John L. Molinelli, the rising rates of heroin use and resulting fatal overdoses in New Jersey have compelled prosecutors in the northern part of the state to pursue the suppliers of the drugs in these cases in order to hold them legally responsible for the deaths of the users.

The New Jersey Criminal Code specifies that strict liability for drug-induced offenses, codified under N.J.S.A. 2C:35-9, are considered extremely egregious crimes, warranting equally serious punishments. Enacted in 1986, the statute classifies these offenses as crimes of the first degree, which are punishable by a term of incarceration ranging from 10 to 20 years in New Jersey State Prison.

For more information pertaining to this case, access the following article: Two Bergen County men indicted in heroin death of Emerson woman

Accident in Carlstadt Leads to Assault by Auto, DWI Charges for Lodi Man
Posted on April 16, 2014 by Travis Tormey | 0 Comments

carlstadt police department shieldA man from Lodi, New Jersey was recently charged with assault by auto and DWI, among other offenses, after an accident in Carlstadt that left a man and his young son injured.

According to Thomas Nielsen, the chief of the Carlstadt Police Department, 24-year-old Kenneth Haines was driving while intoxicated when he caused an accident with another vehicle on Hoboken Road on Sunday, April 13th. Per reports, Haines was driving a 2012 Nissan Rogue when he crossed a double-yellow line and hit a 2007 Ford Focus, containing a man and his 8-year-old son. Both of the victims sustained injuries during the crash and subsequently received treatment at Hackensack University Hospital.

Law enforcement officials said Haines then left the scene of the accident and drove through a safety checkpoint on Route 17 South, nearly hitting a Carlstadt police officer in the process. He was ultimately taken into custody by officers from the East Rutherford Police Department. Test results showed that Haines registered a blood alcohol content of 0.19% at the time, which is more than double the legal limit.

He was charged with numerous offenses before being released, including: assault by auto, DWI, DWI within 1000 feet of school property, reckless driving, and knowingly leaving the scene of an accident resulting in bodily injury. He is scheduled to appear in court on Thursday, May 1st.

While some of the charges that Haines is now facing are classified as traffic violations, others are considered criminal offenses. In New Jersey, DWI-related offenses and reckless driving are classified as traffic violations. Violations involving DWI within 1000 feet of school property, governed under N.J.S.A. 39:4-50(g), are subject to penalties including a driver’s license suspension ranging from 1 to 2 years as well as a maximum sentence of 60 days in jail.

On the other hand, Haines is facing criminal charges for assault by auto (N.J.S.A. 2C:12-1) and leaving the scene of an accident resulting in bodily injury (N.J.S.A. 2C:12-1.1). Depending on the degree of the charges for each offense, Haines may be sentenced to a term of imprisonment if he is ultimately convicted.

For more information pertaining to this case, access the following article: Speeding DWI driver flees crash with man, boy, 8, nearly hits officer, Carlstadt police say

College Basketball Player from Hackensack Facing Charges for Kidnapping, Sexual Offenses
Posted on April 16, 2014 by Travis Tormey | 0 Comments

hackensack kidnapping sexual assault caseDetectives from the Bergen County Prosecutors Office and officers from the Hackensack Police Department recently arrested a man who is now facing charges including kidnapping, sexual assault, and endangering the welfare of a child for alleged crimes against a 14-year-old female victim.

24-year-old Darion Benbow was taken into custody on Friday, April 11th following an investigation by law enforcement officials from Bergen County. Benbow, who is originally from Hackensack, was a former college basketball player for Lafayette University in Pennsylvania.He is now charged with kidnapping, sexual assault, endangering the welfare of a child, and providing alcohol to a minor, according to police records.

Of the crimes for which he is accused, both kidnapping and sexual assault offenses are among the most serious in New Jersey. According to N.J.S.A. 2C:13-1, which pertains to kidnapping offenses, they can be classified as crimes of the first or second degree. Sexual assault, codified under N.J.S.A. 2C:14-2, is also considered a first or second degree crime under New Jersey law.

Depending on the degree of the charges against Benbow, he could be facing a sentence of up to 20 years in New Jersey State Prison if he is found guilty. Both first and second degree crimes entail a presumption of incarceration. However, first degree crimes are punishable by a term of incarceration ranging from 10 to 20 years, while second degree crimes carry a maximum sentence of 10 years.

Following his arrest, Benbow was being held at the Bergen County Jail, with his bail set at $400,000. His arraignment is scheduled for Wednesday, April 16th in Bergen County Superior Court.

For more information pertaining to this case, access the following article: Former college ballplayer charged in sex assault, kidnapping in Hackensack

Teaneck, NJ Police Arrest Bogota Teacher for Alleged Sexual Contact with Minor Student
Posted on April 16, 2014 by Travis Tormey | 0 Comments

A Bogota, NJ teacher has been arrested for allegedly forcing an eighth grade student to touch his genitals.

The 39-year-old man, who resides in Teaneck, is suspected of forcing the female student to touch him in 2009. In June 2013, the student came forward with the allegations and told school officials about the teacher’s alleged conduct.

The suspect worked as a teacher at Bogota Junior-Senior High School. Shortly after the allegations against the man surfaced, he was suspended. Initially, the man was suspended for the rest of the school year, which amounted to 10 days. However, prior to the start of the new school year in August 2013, the school board voted to suspend him indefinitely, so that the police investigation could run its course.

Eventually, the police concluded their investigation. The suspect was arrested, and formal charges of aggravated sexual contact were filed against him.

In New Jersey, criminal sexual contact can be classified as either a third degree felony or a fourth degree felony, depending on the circumstances of the offense. As set forth by N.J.S.A. 2C:14-4, the penalties for aggravated criminal sexual contact include a prison sentence of three to five years, as well as Megan’s Law registration and community supervision for life.

Following his arrest, the suspect was taken to the Bergen County Jail, where he was being held on $50,000 bail.


For more information about this case, read the article entitled “Bogota Teacher Accused of Having Sexual Contact with Eighth Grade Student.”

Palisades Park, NJ Man Sentenced to Drug Court for Selling Crystal Meth
Posted on April 14, 2014 by Travis Tormey | 0 Comments

A Palisades Park, NJ man has been sentenced to five years in the Somerset County drug court program.

The 33-year-old defendant had been arrested for selling crystal meth out of his home in Bound Brook, NJ. He pleaded guilty to related drug offenses in January. In exchange for his guilty plea, the defendant was sentenced to a probationary term in the drug court program.

As a result of his entry into the drug court program, the defendant will be required to make regular court appearances, undergo drug treatment, and make himself available for frequent and random drug testing.

The defendant was arrested after NJ State Police conducted surveillance outside his home. They saw him delivering a blue soap dish containing meth and a bottle of Gamma Hydroxybutyrate (GHB) to a car parked outside his residence. Police eventually seized 36 ounces of GHB, more than four ounces of crystal meth, assorted drug paraphernalia, and more than $4,000 in cash from the defendant’s home.

The defendant previously served as a vice principal at Elizabeth Avenue School in Franklin Township, NJ. He resigned from his position after being charged with a separate offense for possession of meth in Hunterdon County. According to his attorney, he expects to receive probation for that charge. The defendant’s attorney said that he believes his client is on the “right track” toward rehabilitation.


For more information about this case, read the article entitled “Ex-Franklin School Administrator Joins Drug Court for Dealing Meth from Bound Brook Home.”

Leader of NJ Car Smuggling Ring Sentenced to 22 Years in Federal Prison
Posted on April 6, 2014 by Travis Tormey | 0 Comments

A Brooklyn, NY woman known as “the Lady” was sentenced to nearly 22 years in federal prison for leading a car smuggling operation.

44-year-old Hope Kantete led a sophisticated smuggling ring that shipped dozens of luxury automobiles from New Jersey to Africa. According to authorities, the vehicles were stolen and carjacked. Police believe that approximately 10 percent of the cars were obtained through carjackings.

A multi-agency task force led by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Homeland Security conducted the investigation. When the smuggling ring was shut down by police in June 2012, authorities recovered more than 200 vehicles. 19 people were eventually charged in the scheme. The defendants hailed from New Jersey, New York, and Kansas.

Kantete was convicted in June 2013 on 10 counts of transporting stolen vehicles in interstate or foreign commerce. In addition to sentencing Kantete to prison time, the judge ordered her to pay restitution of almost $350,000.

According to law enforcement officials, Kantete had members of her organization place new vehicle identification numbers on the cars and create fraudulent title documents for the cars, which were later shipped abroad to West Africa.


For more information about this case, access the article entitled “Ringleader of International Luxury Car Theft Operation Sentenced to Nearly 22 Years.

Lodi, NJ Man Busted with Heroin in Garfield, NJ
Posted on April 6, 2014 by Travis Tormey | 0 Comments

A Lodi, NJ man was arrested after an officer with the Bergen County Sheriff’s Office allegedly found 120 envelopes of heroin in the man’s trunk.

The sheriff’s officer pulled over 26-year-old Daniel Mactaggart in Garfield, New Jersey. The officer initiated the traffic stop after he observed Mactaggart cut off several drivers on Lanza Avenue and then drive the wrong way on Madeline Avenue.

When the officer stopped Mactaggart, he noticed that Mactaggart was visibly nervous.

According to authorities, police found the heroin after Mactaggart gave them permission to search his vehicle. In a statement, the sheriff’s office said that the investigation later revealed two bricks of heroin wrapped in newspaper and two stacks of 10 envelopes of heroin wrapped by a rubber band and stored in the trunk.

Police also seized more than $800 in cash.

Mactaggart has been charged with heroin possession and possession with intent to distribute heroin.

In New Jersey, heroin possession is governed under N.J.S.A. 2C:35-10. Possession of even a small amount of heroin typically results in third degree charges. A conviction for third degree possession of heroin is punishable by as many as five years in New Jersey State Prison.

After being arrested, Mactaggart was held at the Bergen County Jail on $20,000 bail.


To learn more, read the article entitled “Lodi Man Found with 120 Envelopes of Heroin in Garfield, Bergen Sheriff Says.

Garfield, NJ Man Charged with Sexually Assaulting 11-Year-Old Girl
Posted on April 6, 2014 by Travis Tormey | 0 Comments

A Garfield, NJ man has been charged with sexually assaulting an 11-year-old girl.

30-year-old Eduardo Romero is accused of assaulting the young girl several times over a five-month period. According to a statement issued by Bergen County Prosecutor John L. Molinelli, the girl was an acquaintance of Romero’s.

Authorities learned of the allegations when the girl told a relative that she had been assaulted. The relative then contacted the police, which interviewed the victim. During an interview conducted by a detective with the Prosecutor’s Office’s Special Victims Unit, the girl repeated the allegations against Romero.

Romero has been formally charged with sexual assault and endangering the welfare of a child.

In New Jersey, sexual assault is addressed by N.J.S.A. 2C:14-2. As set forth by the statute, criminal sexual assault is considered a second degree felony. In this case, if Romero is convicted of second degree sexual assault, he could face up to 10 years in state prison.

After being arrested, Romero was held at the Bergen County Jail on $100,000 bail. He was also ordered not to have any contact with the girl.


For more information, see the article entitled “Garfield Man Accused of Sexually Assaulting 11-Year-Old Girl.

Garfield, NJ Man Pleads Guilty in PA Sexual Assault Case
Posted on April 1, 2014 by Travis Tormey | 0 Comments

A Garfield, NJ man accused of rape and kidnapping in Pennsylvania agreed to a plea deal that will put him behind bars for at least nine months

21-year-old Frederick Hernandez was arrested by police in July 2013. Hernandez allegedly kidnapped a Pennsylvania woman and her 11-month-old son. According to police, Hernandez pushed the woman down a flight of stairs and sexually assaulted her. He then allegedly ordered the woman and her son to travel with him to Bergen County. When the woman refused, he allegedly beat her.

Police said that Hernandez did end up kidnapping the two and driving them to Garfield, NJ.

Hernandez faced serious charges as a result of the incident. However, the district attorney’s office dropped the rape charged after multiple interviews with the victim.

Hernandez eventually pleaded guilty to simple assault, endangering the welfare of a child, and reckless endangerment. All of those offenses are misdemeanors in PA. Under the terms of the plea deal struck with PA prosecutors, Hernandez will serve at least nine months in Northampton County Prison, with the potential to serve up to 23 months.


To learn more, see the article entitled “Garfield Man Charged with Rape, Kidnapping in Pa. Agrees to Plea Bargain.