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N.J. man unable to use arms faces gun charge!!!!

A man who can’t use his arms because of a spinal condition is being held in jail while facing a gun possession charge his lawyer calls shocking.

Bail was lowered Tuesday for Marcus Hubbard, who has been jailed since his arrest in Trenton in August.

Defense lawyer Caroline Turner said the case against Hubbard, who injured his spine in a car accident and may have Lou Gehrig’s disease, “shocks the conscience.”

“How could (he be) held for four months on a gun charge?” Turner said during the bail hearing. “He cannot move his arms. They are useless to him.”

Hubbard, who’s from Salem, has been hospitalized in protective custody since his arrest, The Times newspaper reported (http://bit.ly/1Gr2SKz ). He wore a back brace in court on Tuesday and had difficulty standing, the newspaper said.

Authorities say Hubbard and three other men were in a car that ran a red light in Trenton and was pulled over. They say inside the car police officers found a stolen handgun in a seatback pocket and a prescription bottle of codeine. All four men were charged after none of them took responsibility for the items.

A state judge agreed during Tuesday’s hearing to lower Hubbard’s bail from $100,000 to $35,000. But Turner said she’ll continue her efforts to have Hubbard freed without bail.

Police said the gun was stolen from Anchorage, Alaska. Turner said the other men arrested in the car with Hubbard told police it didn’t belong to him and he shouldn’t be charged.

Prosecutors acknowledged Hubbard has no use of his hands but said he still could be guilty of a crime.

Turner said prosecutors are misstating constructive possession laws, which allow charges for someone who isn’t possessing an item but can and intends to exert control over it himself or through other people, The Times reported.

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Ex-officer charged with DUI 3 times in 11 hours

BRIDGEPORT, Conn. (AP) – A former Connecticut police officer who appeared in court on a drunken-driving charge was arrested three more times in the next 11 hours.

The Connecticut Post reports (http://bit.ly/1z3iOSo ) 39-year-old John Biehn, of Southington, was charged twice Monday with drunken driving and accused of shoplifting at a Wal-Mart in Wallingford.

Police say Biehn, a former Bridgeport officer, posted bond after each arrest. Biehn’s listed number rang unanswered Wednesday.

Authorities say Biehn appeared in Rockville Superior Court on Monday on a DUI charge dating from July 26.

He was arrested Monday afternoon in the parking lot of a Rockville McDonald’s restaurant shortly after. He was stopped again and charged with DUI Monday night in Wallingford, a few hours before his arrest at the Wal-Mart on larceny charges.

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Former GA Judge Convicted Of Six Federal Crimes Including Framing Employee For Drug Possession

A federal jury convicted a former Georgia judge last week of six charges, including conspiring to have an employee arrested for drug possession.

article image

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports Bryant Cochran, who was once chief judge of Murray County Magistrate Court, will return to court after the first of the year to be sentenced for his crimes.

After deliberating for four hours over two days, the jury found Cochran guilty Thursday of sexually harassing a female employee, of illegally searching through another female employee’s phone, of framing a woman for arrest and of asking a friend to lie to investigators.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Jeffrey Davis said he was pleased with the verdicts.

“I think the jury recognized through Cochran’s course of conduct that he was guilty as charged,” Davis told the Chattanooga Times Free Press. “I think they were able to make all the connections that we put forward.”

Female employees who testified during the trial said the office, run by Cochran, was a hostile and often uncomfortable place to work.

Virginia Rector, a former clerk of Cochran’s court, said the former judge sexually harassed her for years but she was afraid to report the crime until she retired.

“He had a lot of friends in the county,” Rector testified Dec. 3. “I would get fired and nobody would know. … It’s not right. It’s not fair.”

Another employee testified she caught the former judge looking through her cell phone.

One woman, Angela Garmley, who, along with her husband, stood up to Cochran, ended up being framed for drug possession, the prosecutors told the jury.

Garmley testified that in 2012 she asked Cochran to issue warrants for three people she said had beaten her.

Garmley told jurors that Cochran responded by saying he needed a mistress and asked her if she liked oral sex. She said the two talked and traded text messages for about a week. Months later, she testified, Cochran told her husband that she had flirted with him.

Joe Garmley reported the relationship to the Judicial Qualifications Commission and local media outlets, putting Cochran’s career in jeopardy.

Prosecutors said Cochran retaliated by having methamphetamine placed in Angela Garmley’s car and tipping local officers to its presence. When police found the drugs, she was arrested and charged.

Those charges were later dropped and the two officers involved in the arrest pleaded guilty to obstruction charges. Another man implicated in the plot also pleaded guilty to conspiracy to distribute a controlled substance.

The subsequent investigation into the plot led to the most serious charge for which Cochran was convicted. Prosecutors said Cochran tampered with a witness when he asked his friend, Mike Winkler, to tell investigators that it was he, not Cochran, who tipped the officers to the location of the drugs.

Cochran faces up to 20 years in a federal prison for the tampering conviction alone.

U.S. District Judge Harold Murphy is scheduled to sentence Cochran Feb. 20 for all six charges.

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Ex-Hendricks County deputies linked to synthetic drug ring

Two former Hendricks County deputies were arrested Thursday morning on charges related to a nationwide drug investigation.

Jason Woods, 41, and Teresa Woods, 34, were taken into custody at the Indianapolis office of Homeland Security Investigations and transported to Boone County Jail where they were booked on two counts each of possession of a synthetic drug, police said.

Detectives received intelligence regarding a safe owned by the husband and wife in May. After a warrant for the safe was obtained in June, officials said investigators found more than $80,000 cash and over 100 grams of synthetic drugs inside.

The Woods were also under scrutiny in March after a longtime friend of the couple, Doug Sloan, who detectives believed to be involved in illegal activity, hired a private investigator to find out what the law enforcement couple had done with $250,000 he’d given them to keep for him.

While the hearing in March wasn’t meant to pursue criminal charges against the Woods, Hendricks County Sheriff Dave Galloway said during the proceedings that “the actions of these two deputies do not reflect the way our department operates. They do not deserve to be law enforcement officers in any capacity, and I’m sorry to be here in this situation.”

Following the couple’s suspension from the Hendricks County Sheriff’s Department on March 12, the Woods went to Teresa’s mother’s house and dumped “numerous fire arms and a safe,” Teresa’s brother told police.

According to the brother, the Woods brought the guns and safe to Teresa’s mother’s house so investigators wouldn’t seize the items if they searched the Woods’ home.

On May 13, the Woods were fired from the sheriff’s department, following the recommendation of Galloway. At the time, the couple’s jobs were terminated due to Sloan’s allegations regarding the missing money, but court documents reveal that another investigation was taking place that involved the missing money and synthetic drugs.

Three days later, on May 16, detectives questioned Teresa Woods at her mother’s home.

The bigger picture

Officials with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security Investigations have been working to crack a synthetic drug ring based in Indianapolis since October 2013, when agents discovered packets of “spice,” or synthetic marijuana, stowed in parcels bound for Indiana at U.S. ports of entry.

While all the parcels were destined for different locations in the Indianapolis area, according to investigators, they all shared a common telephone number belonging to a Robert Jaynes.

Individuals questioned during the investigation said Jaynes, who ran Tight Thirty Entertainment Inc., a business promoting his band Tight Thirty, played a key role in the purchase and distribution of the drugs, court documents state.

In a probable cause affidavit linked to the Jason and Teresa Woods’ arrest, HSI special agents described how a visit to the TTE location at 8364 Brookville Road broke open the case and lead to the discovery of another business, West Strong Wholesale, also owned by Jaynes, which turned out to be something of a distribution center for the drugs.

When investigators arrived at the West Strong Wholesale warehouse, they saw four men loading up a cargo van and pickup with boxes and containers stuffed with packets of synthetic marijuana.

Agents questioned the individuals and learned they’d been paid by Jaynes to fill little bags with spice, the affidavit stated.

The men also implicated Kirk Parsons, who was said to have been working with Jaynes.

Another address listed on the parcels was 2030 S. Arlington Ave., the location of the home belonging to Jarad and Jayme Lewis.

During an interview with the Lewises, court documents state that both Jarad and Jayme admitted to HSI agents that they knew Jaynes and Parsons.

Jarad told investigators that he used to work for Jaynes and Parsons at the West Strong Wholesale warehouse, and now he was receiving spice parcels at his home on behalf of them. He also said he’d purchased cashier’s checks with money given to him by Jaynes, and that he even bought a $230,000 home in cash in his name with Jaynes’ money.

The deputies

In Jayme’s interview with investigators, she too admitted to purchasing cashier’s checks for Jaynes, and making them out to Reliable Distributing, which, according to HSI, is a Canadian company known for brokering purchases of raw synthetic drug powders from Chinese manufacturers.

Then Jayme told the special agents about Hendricks County Sheriff’s deputies Jason and Teresa Woods.

Court documents state that Jayme and Jarad Lewis knew the Woods had obtained cashier’s checks made out to Reliable Distributing. In fact, Jayme recalled one occasion where Jason Woods handed her two personal checks made out to the Canadian company, an account bank records later confirmed.

Later, when investigators searched the house purchased by Jarad on behalf of Jaynes, and discovered synthetic drugs and paraphernalia, neighbors said they reported seeing a marked sheriff’s department car parked in the home’s driveway.

The interview

When detectives interviewed Teresa Woods on May 16, she told them that she and her husband felt completely taken advantage of by the people at Irvington Bible Baptist Church. She stated that when Jaynes approached them and talked to them about God and going to church, that she and Jason fell for the spiel.

Teresa Woods also told investigators that when Jaynes asked Jason to write out checks to Reliable Distributing, Jason had no idea what the company’s dealings were. She said he knew only that other worshipers at the Irvington church had written checks out for Jaynes, so he thought it was OK.

As for the contents of the safe, Teresa Woods told detectives she didn’t know exactly what was in there, but that she and Jason Woods were the only ones who had access to it. She said the only explanation for the drugs inside the safe was that she and Jason Woods had tried Spice “years ago,” before it was illegal.

As for the missing $250,000, court documents state that that’s when Teresa Woods figures this whole situation started. She told investigators she and Jason Woods both knew Sloan had been involved in the synthetic drug business, but when the state cracked down on the ingredients that could be used, Teresa said Sloan found a way around it, a way to make it legal.

Detectives have yet to say if there is a direction connection between Sloan, Jaynes and Parsons.

So, following their suspension from the Hendricks Count Sheriff’s Department, they hid the safe at Teresa’s mom’s house, where her mother and brother discovered it and called law officers.

Authorities obtained a search warrant to open the safe in June. Inside, they found $88,000, 107.51 grams of methylone, 1.34 grams of 4-Methylethcathinone (a stimulant) and 58 blue tablets that were found to be a non-controlled substance.

To date, both Jarad and Jayme Lewis, along with 10 other individuals, face charges of corrupt business influence, unlawful manufacture, distribution, and possession of a counterfeit substance, conspiracy to deal in synthetic drugs or lookalike substances, dealing synthetic drugs or lookalike substances and maintaining a common nuisance. It was unclear Thursday whether Jaynes and Parsons had been charged in connection with the investigation.

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Suspect found innocent of first-degree murder in Portales shooting

Staff photo: Joshua Lucero Erik Pina, right, stands with his lawyer, Randall Harris, Tuesday afternoon as Judge Stephen Quinn reads the jury’s verdict during Pina’s trial for the 2011 shooting death of Jose Montoya. The jury found Pina not guilty of first-degree murder, but convicted him of eight other charges, including aggravated burglary, armed robbery, and possession of stolen property.

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Former judge found guilty

Cochran

Former Murray County Chief Magistrate Judge Bryant Cochran was found guilty by a federal jury on six charges Thursday afternoon. 

Cochran’s trial in federal court in Rome, Ga. began last Wednesday. He was indicted by a federal grand jury on charges of conspiracy against rights to be free from an unreasonable search and seizure involving Angela Garmley; deprivation of rights in the sexual assault of a former clerk in his office, V.R.; deprivation of rights concerning the search of a personal cell phone of a former employee, S.P.; deprivation of rights for causing Angela Garmley to be arrested and charged with drug possession; conspiracy to distribute a controlled substance in connection with drugs found on Garmley’s car the night she was arrested and tampering with a witness for attempting to persuade J.M.W. to say that he was the source of the tip about drugs to be found on Garmley’s car.

Garmley had made accusations about sexual advances made by Cochran and those allegations became public after Cochran won re election in 2012.

The allegations were investigated by the Judicial Qualifications Commission and that investigation was dropped after Cochran resigned from office and admitting to the pre signing of warrants.

Garmley was pulled over in August 2012 and charged with possession of methamphetamine after a metal magnetic tin containing methamphetamine was found on her car.

During the trial several officers testified that Cochran had informed them that Garmley would be carrying drugs if they stopped her car.

Clifford Joyce admitted to investigators that he planted the drugs on Garmley’s car. He plead guilty to planting the methamphetamine.

Cochran’s cousin, Mike Henderson, a former captain with the Murray County Sheriff’s Office and former deputy Joshua Greeson were both at the scene on the night Garmley was arrested.

Both pleaded guilty to obstruction after investigators determined they had lied during an investigation.

Conasauga Judicial Circuit District Attorney Bert Posten asked for the GBI to investigate the circumstances of the traffic stop and the drug charges against Garmley were later dropped.

In closing arguments on Wednesday, Cochran’s attorney Page Pate reminded jurors that Garmley had purchased methamphetamine earlier on the day of the traffic stop and that she had used the drug that day as well. Pate said that the government had no evidence to support the charges only suggestions. 

The jury deliberated nearly two hours on Wednesday, about two and a half hours Thursday morning and came back with the verdict shortly before 2 p.m. Thursday.

Sentencing for Cochran is scheduled for Feb. 20, 2015 and he remains free on bond. 

Read more: Chatsworth Times – Former judge found guilty

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What US Heroin Seizures Tell Us about the Market

Heroin seized in the US

Heroin seized in the US

A new Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) report said the majority of heroin seized by US authorities in 2012 was sourced to South America, a somewhat surprising statistic that may point to a disturbing reality: the US is running blind when it comes to understanding the increasingly potent and lucrative heroin networks.

According to the 2014 DEA National Drug Threat Assessment (pdf) released in late November, slightly more than half of all heroin seized in the United States in 2012 originated in South America, while Mexicoaccounted for 45 percent.

The data continues a long-term trend. The DEA says South America has consistently supplied the United States with the majority of the country’s heroin since the mid-1990s, with 2011 serving as the only exception.

These numbers are surprising because Mexican heroin production is thought to be so much higher than Colombia‘s, the source of most of South America’s heroin. According to the 2013 annual World Drug Report (pdf) by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), Mexico‘s potential heroin production in 2012 — the same year tracked by the DEA report — was 30 times higher than Colombia’s.

“While acknowledging the growing importance of Mexico as a supply country for heroin reaching its market,” the UNODC writes, “the United States — on the basis of information from its Heroin Signature Program – continues to consider Colombia the primary source of heroin in the country.”

The numbers become even more confusing when we look at the DEA’s own data. The DEA chart (see below) reflects the increasing availability of Mexican-sourced heroin in the US market over the last 10 years. The 2012 figure marks a sharp increase from 2003, when less than 5 percent of all heroin seized came from the US’ southern neighbor.

20141206 US DEA Source Heroin

Mexico’s growing role as supplier of heroin for US markets is even more evident when examining geographical seizure trends (see graph below). Annual heroin seizures in the United States rose roughly 90 percent over a recent five year period, from 2,500 kilos in 2009 to approximately 4,750 kilos in 2013.

Meanwhile, the amount of heroin seized along the US southwest border jumped about 150 percent over that same time frame, indicating Mexico is likely fueling the apparent increased availability of the illicit drug in the United States.

Yet, the agency insists, South America’s heroin is what they find on the US streets.

20141206 US DEA Heroin Seizures

InSight Crime Analysis

Since the DEA’s report does not seek to establish the reasons why there is a discrepancy between the ratio of the estimated amount produced in Mexico and Colombia (30:1), and the amount seized in the United States (roughly 1:1), InSight Crime offers a few possibilities:

(1) The US has far deeper sources and intelligence on the movement of opiates from Colombia to the United States. This would help law enforcement track and seize Colombia-sourced heroin at a higher rate than Mexico-sourced heroin. The prospect is disturbing, largely because official statements would indicate that the US is saturated with Mexican heroin, and US officials have been reporting since at least the 2011 Drug Threat Assessment (pdf) a drop in seizures of Colombia-sourced heroin.

SEE ALSO: Coverage of US/Mexico Border

One Chicago policeman, who wished to remain anonymous because he is not authorized to speak on the record, told InSight Crime the incongruous data may have something to do with how much trust there is between the US and Colombian authorities, and how little trust there is between US and Mexican authorities.

“We have forged such a strong relationship with Colombia that I think we know most of the unknowns in Colombia,” the policeman surmised of the skewed ratio. “We don’t have that relationship with Mexico because the government is a facade for the cartels.”

The result, he said, is that the police do not know the source of the heroin for the street gangs they are tracking in that city, which is considered a primary distribution point for Mexican drug cartels.

2) Colombia’s heroin production is much higher than has been reported. In its 2013 report on illicit crop cultivation (pdf), the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) said that — despite data indicating that Colombia’s poppy production had been declining since 1998 — heroin prices remained unchanged.

“Nominal prices for heroin at the wholesale level were lower in 2011 in both dollars and Colombian pesos, than they were five years before, suggesting that the supply of heroin did not drastically diminish,” the report said.

Gathering data on illicit crop production is an inexact science. Street price may be a better indicator of availability and production levels. In this respect, the DEA offers some more contradictory data. According to the DEA’s Heroin Domestic Monitor Program (pdf), the price of South American heroin dropped 57 cents from 2010 to 2011, the same period in which the agency’s other measure, the Heroin Signature Program, said Colombia’s supply continued its steady decline. (Mexico-sourced heroin dropped 65 cents in the same period.)

“It is unclear how Colombia, given its much lower potential production, could supply larger amounts to the United States market than Mexico,” the UNODC 2013 report states. “This points to heroin production in Colombia having a greater degree of importance than that reflected in the available potential production estimates.”

3) Mexican organizations are using Colombian techniques and chemists to produce white heroin. Mexican heroin is traditionally brown or a dark tar-like substance; Colombia’s is white. However, since 2011, US investigators have said this may be outdated.

“Investigative reporting suggests that heroin producers in Mexico may be using Colombian processing techniques to create a white powder form of heroin,” the 2011 Drug Threat Assessment report (pdf) reads. “However, signature analysis has not confirmed the existence of this form of heroin. If true, this development likely portends intent on the part of Mexican TCOs to further expand into U.S. white powder heroin markets.”

SEE ALSO: Coverage of Criminal Migration

This is a logical progression. Mexican criminal groups are the key distributors of Colombia-sourced cocaine. They have been learning from and employing Colombians for decades. Colombian heroin also has a higher purity making it a more lucrative product.

4) The DEA methodology is flawed. The DEA uses what it calls the Heroin Signature Program (HSP), which is based on a limited sampling of seizures made at the country’s ports of entry, and the Heroin Domestic Monitor Program (HDMP) to trace the source of the heroin seized in the US.

In 2010 and 2011, the last years public data was made available on the HSP process (pdf), the samples totaled between 1 and 1.5 tons of heroin. The HDMP is based on a sampling from 27 cities, which include between 600 and 800 total samples purchased on the streets.

Complaints about the DEA’s methodology stretch back to at least 2002 when theGovernment Accounting Office said the two methodologies were “based on nonrepresentative samples of their respective populations.”

What’s more, the samples collected by the DEA at ports of entry are only about five percent of the estimated total consumed in the United States (see the UN’s World Drug Report 2010 - pdf).

Other US agencies, perhaps faced with the same discrepancies, also offer contradictory conclusions. On its webpage, the Office of National Drug Control Policy states, “Opium poppy cultivation in Mexico remains high, and Mexico continues as the primary supplier of heroin to the United States.”

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Ex-South Carolina police chief indicted in 2011 shooting death of unarmed man

CHARLESTON, S.C. (Reuters) – A white former police chief in Eutawville, South Carolina, has been indicted on a murder charge in the 2011 shooting death of an unarmed black man he was trying to arrest, according to records released on Thursday.

The indictment of ex-chief Richard Combs came on Wednesday, the Orangeburg County Clerk of Court said, on the heels of decisions by grand juries in New York City and Missouri not to indict white police officers involved in deaths of unarmed black men this year.

Combs fatally shot Eutawville resident Bernard Bailey, 54, in the town hall parking lot in May 2011 after they argued and scuffled over a traffic ticket previously issued to Bailey’s daughter.

Combs had already been indicted in August 2013 in connection with the shooting on a misconduct in office charge, with a grand jury finding that his use of deadly force was unjustified, according to court records.

The former chief has argued he shot Bailey in self defense, but a judge recently rejected his “Stand Your Ground” claim in the earlier case.

Wally Fayssoux, one of the lawyers representing Combs said Bailey put Combs in “an impossible situation,” adding “he had no choice.”

A trial is tentatively schedule for January, he said.

Solicitor David Pascoe, whose office is prosecuting the cases, declined to comment through a representative.

Carl Grant, the Bailey family’s lawyer, said they attended Combs’ court hearing on Thursday, where a judge ordered a $150,000 bail.

Grant said the prosecutor’s office had indicated more than a year ago that it was considering a murder charge against Combs, which Bailey’s family felt the case warranted.

“The family was simply looking for some sense of justice that represents what actually happened, in their mind,” Grant said. “This indictment for murder is not something the solicitor decided to do at the last minute or in light of today’s media.”

The murder indictment against Combs was issued on the same day that a New York City grand jury opted not to bring charges against a white police officer in the chokehold death of an unarmed black man.

Last week, a grand jury in Missouri choose not to indict a white police officer in the killing of a black man there. The decision in that case sparked a rash of violence in Ferguson, Missouri, where 18-year-old Michael Brown was shot dead, with businesses burned down and looted.

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Judge rules against police search of home Calls warrantless entry into home unjustified

  • The Sparta Municipal Court building

  • Medical marijuana patient Scott Waselik smokes outside the Sparta Municipal Court building following a hearing in his case in May.

A judge has thrown out evidence of marijuana and drug paraphernalia uncovered in a Sparta man’s residence by township police last year in the case of a medical marijuana patient charged with possession.

Scott Waselik, who had gone to police on Oct. 8, 2013 after he alleged that his boyfriend had stabbed him in his home, ended up getting arrested by Sparta police when they later found marijuana in his home.

Waselik is a state marijuana patient who said he is legally allowed to obtain the drug to treat Crohn’s Disease.

Sparta police contended that the marijuana they found was unlawfully obtained by Waselik.

Sussex County Superior Court Judge Thomas Critchley ruled Nov. 7 that the stabbing did not permit police to initally enter the home without a warrant and thus ordered that the marijuana was not lawfully seized.

“The totality of the circumstances did not justify the initial warrantless entr into defendant’s residence,” Critchley wrote. “Therefore, the marijuana and drug paraphernalia seized by the police officers should be suppressed.”

After Waselik went to the police station to report being punched and stabbed by his boyfriend in his home, police went to his residence and arrested the alleged perpetrator, Kevin Rios, who was found in the backyard. Rios surrendered a knife to police that was in his pocket.

Following the arrest, police entered the home and found a large bag of marijuana next to a digital scale on the kitchen table next to different types of drug paraphernalia, according to court documents.

Police secured a warrant to search the home and seized approximately 74 grams of marijuana and the drug paraphernalia from Waselik’s residence, the documents state.

In his ruling, Critchley cited the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution as well as the New Jersey Constitution which he wrote “protects the right of people to be free from governmental intrusion and to be safe within their home. The privacy of one’s home is entitled to the highest degree of respect and protection within the constitutional framework.”

Exceptions to the warrant requirement, Critchley wrote, “such as the emergency-aid doctrine, are permitted when the privacy of an individual is outweighed by the duty to protect and preserve life.”

To enter a home without a warrant in New Jersey, “the State must prove the officer had an objectively reasonable basis to believe that an emergency requires that he provide immediate assistance to protect or preserve life, or to prevent serious injury,” Critchley wrote in his decision.

“It’s a really big relief,” Waselik said by phone on Monday. He said the case has put a lot of “stress on my family.”

Waselik said he is facing thousands of dollars in legal bills as a result of the case, which lasted more than a year. He is awaiting word on whether Sparta township will appeal the ruling.

“This whole illegal search has really damaged my life,” he said.

Waselik is being represented by attorney Nicholas Pompelio, counsel with the law firm of DiFrancesco, Bateman, Coley, Yospin, Kunzman, Davis & Lehrer P.C.

Waselik said he hoping to get back about 35 pipes and bongs which he said was taken from his home by police.

Sparta Police Lt. John Paul Beebe said that town attorney Jonathan McMeen is weighing an appeal.

“We believe very deeply and trust the criminal justice system and that includes respecting the decisions of our judges,” Beebe said.

Beebe said the ruling was “one step in the process” and that an appeal was possible.

“We will continue to keep illegal narcotics off our streets,” Beebe said. “Our mission remains the same.”

“Illegal narcotics, illegally obtained, are a risk to public safety.”

- See more at: http://spartaindependent.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20141204/NEWS01/141209971/Judge-rules-against-police-search-of-home#sthash.pKgDyDCO.dpuf

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Essex County Lawyer Admits Smuggling Marijuana into Federal Pretrial Detention Facility

TRENTON, NJ—An attorney from Maplewood, New Jersey, today admitted his involvement in a scheme to smuggle contraband, including marijuana and tobacco, into the Essex County Jail, a federal pretrial detention facility, U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman announced.

Brian Kapalin, 67, pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Mary L. Cooper to an information charging him with one count of conspiring to smuggle contraband into a federal detention facility.

According to the documents filed in this case and other cases and statements made in court:

From September 2013 to May 2014, Kapalin accepted packages of contraband containing marijuana and tobacco from Vladimir Sauzereseteo, 40, of East Orange, New Jersey. In exchange for cash payments from Sauzereseteo, Kapalin agreed to smuggle the contraband to federal pretrial detainees at the Essex County Jail, including Sauzereseteo’s brother, Muhammad Subpunallah, 32.

In January 2014 Subpunallah gave Kapalin $500 to deliver a package of marijuana to another inmate. Kapalin met with the inmate at the jail’s attorney conference room and gave him the contraband. Kapalin admitted delivering multiple packages of marijuana to a third inmate at the Essex County Jail between August 2013 and May 2014 in return for $500 per package.

The conspiracy charge to which Kapalin pleaded guilty carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison and a maximum fine of $250,000. Sentencing is scheduled for March 18, 2015.

Sauzereseteo previously pleaded guilty to one count of conspiring to smuggle contraband into a federal detention facility and is scheduled to be sentenced on Dec. 4, 2014. Charges against Subpunallah are still pending and he is considered innocent unless and until proven guilty.

U.S. Attorney Fishman credited special agents of the FBI, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Aaron T. Ford in Newark, and investigators with the Internal Affairs Division of Essex County Jail, under the leadership of Warden Roy Hendricks, with the investigation leading to today’s guilty plea.

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