Newark New Jersey Criminal Law Blog

Newark New Jersey
Criminal Law Blog

Published By

Navarro Gray, Esq.

Essex County Police to Receive Federal Funding for Community Policing Efforts

Posted in Criminal Defense

Police Departments in Essex County Will Hire More Officers with Grant Money

Criminal Lawyers in Essex County NJThree law enforcement agencies in Essex County, NJ are set to receive federal grant money that will be used to hire additional cops to patrol streets. The Essex County Sheriff’s Office, the Nutley Police Department, and the West Orange Police Department were awarded several million dollars to help with efforts to stop violent crimes and drug crimes. The grants come from the Department of Justice’s Community Oriented Policing Services Hiring Program (more commonly known as the COPS Hiring Program).

The federal government money will be distributed in NJ as follows:

  • The Essex County Sheriff’s Office gets $1.8 million to hire 15 officers.
  • The Nutley Police Department in Essex County gets $500,000 to hire four (4) officers.
  • The West Orange Police Department in Essex County, NJ gets $500,000 to hire four (4) officers.
  • The Paramus Police Department in Bergen County, NJ gets $625,000 to hire five (5) officers.
  • The Moonachie Police Department in Bergen County, NJ gets $125,000 to hire one (1) officer.
  • The Long Branch Police Department in Monmouth County, NJ gets $625,000 to hire five (5) officers.

The six law enforcement agencies will be receiving approximately $.2 million so that they can hire 34 police officers for community patrolling. In 2016, three Essex County police departments – the Essex County Sheriff’s Office, the East Orange Police Department, and the Orange Police Department – received $4.7 million to hire 32 officers through the COPS hiring program.

Essex County Community Policing

Community policing is supposed to prevent criminal activity by giving police officers the opportunity to patrol high-crime areas. In New Jersey, community policing efforts have been used to crack down on places known for marijuana distribution and cocaine distribution. U.S. Rep. Donald M. Payne, Jr. previously noted that the COPS program helps NJ police departments “strengthen their capacity to work directly with community members to meet their needs and make New Jersey communities safer.” Similarly, U.S. Senator Robert Menendez said that having police officers in the community on a daily basis allows residents and business owners to develop strong relationships with police “built on trust and mutual respect.”

Beyond that, community policing programs help residents to feel safer because an increased police presence allows children to avoid dangers as they walk to and from school. For example, the West Orange Police Department reportedly plans to place some of the additional officers in city schools to serve as school resource officers and to address dangerous incidents with juveniles.

Contact an Essex County Criminal Defense Lawyer Today!

Having more police officers on Essex County streets means that there is likely to be an uptick in arrests. If you were arrested and charged with crimes in West Orange, Nutley, Newark, or any other part of Essex County, you should talk to an experienced criminal defense lawyer. The experienced NJ criminal attorneys at the Tormey Law Firm defend clients against criminal charges in Superior Courts and Municipal Courts throughout New Jersey. Contact us today to explore your legal options.

Newark, NJ Woman Accused of Murder Dies in Essex County Jail

Posted in Homicide

Newark Homicide Suspect Dies While Detained in Essex County Correctional Facility on Murder Charges

Newark Homicide SuspectA Newark, NJ woman charged with murder and criminal weapons offenses recently died while she was being held at the Essex County Jail. The suspect, 30-year-old Turqoise Williams, was incarcerated in the Essex County Correctional Facility while prosecutors decided how to proceed with her case. She was placed under arrest on May 5 after being implicated for the killing of Virdea Beard. According to law enforcement officials, Williams used a gun to shoot and kill Beard outside a residence on the 200 block of North 9th Street in Newark, New Jersey. Beard sustained several gunshot wounds in the shooting and was later pronounced dead at the scene.

The fatal shooting incident happened on April 28. One week later, Newark police arrested Williams. Since that time, she had been detained at the Essex County Jail without bail. That’s because new bail guidelines in NJ allow the State to keep defendants in certain violent crime cases held behind bars while their cases go through the criminal justice process. (The purpose of the bail reform is to protect members of the public from potentially violent offenders.) At Williams’ initial bail hearing, prosecutors described the murder as a “domestic violence killing” because Williams and Beard were reportedly dating.

Maximum Penalties in NJ Murder Cases

Williams faces numerous criminal charges: murder, witness tampering, unlawful possession of a weapon, and possession of a weapon for an unlawful purpose. Williams also faced charges for a certain persons offense for being a convicted felon who was illegally in possession of a firearm – remarkably, alleged prosecutors, Williams showed up to the Essex County courthouse with a handgun.

If Williams had not passed away and had eventually stood trial in Essex County Superior Court, she would have been subject to significant penalties. As set forth by N.J.S.A. 2C:11-3, first degree murder is a special kind of felony offense. While most first degree felonies in NJ can result in a maximum punishment of 20 years in prison, first degree murder has a minimum penalty of 30 years in state prison and a maximum penalty of life imprisonment.

However, Williams’ case did not reach the trial stage because she died while in custody at the Essex County Correctional Facility in Newark, NJ. A spokesperson for the Essex County Prosecutor’s Office indicated that Williams passed away on October 22. Authorities have not announced the exact cause of her death. The Newark medical examiner will be conducting an autopsy and should issue an official report at some point.

Free Consultation with Experienced Newark Criminal Lawyers About Your Murder Charges

If you’ve been charged with a violent crime such as murder or aggravated assault in Newark, you need an experienced criminal defense lawyer on your side. The aggressive criminal attorneys at the Tormey Law Firm have handled numerous cases in Essex County Superior Court, so they know how to defend you against felony charges. Contact us anytime to schedule a free consultation.

Irvington, NJ Man Accused of Committing Lewd Act at Hoboken PATH Station

Posted in Sex Crimes

Irvington Man Arrested After He Allegedly Exposed Himself to Woman at Hoboken Train Station

Irvington NJ Lewdness ChargesPort Authority police officers recently arrested an Irvington man who reportedly committed a lewd act at the PATH station in Hoboken, New Jersey. The suspect is Karim Durant, a 37-year-old man who lives in Irvington in Essex County, NJ. Durant has been accused of approaching a woman in her mid-20s at the Hoboken train station and exposing himself to her. The incident reportedly began when Durant “brushed against her” in an inappropriate manner. The victim later told police that Durant walked away from her, only to return a short time later and expose himself to her while standing on a train platform. Durant allegedly committed the lewd act in full view of the victim.

Durant allegedly followed the victim when she boarded a train that was headed to 33rd Street in New York City. The victim eventually alerted law enforcement about Durant. Port Authority cops later located Durant and arrested him.

Penalties for Lewdness in NJ

Durant faces several criminal charges in connection with the incident at the Hoboken PATH station, including charges for lewdness, stalking, harassment, and disorderly conduct. If Durant is convicted on any of these charges, he would be subject to penalties that include prison time, heavy fines, and sex offender registration requirements under Megan’s Law.

Lewdness is a sexual offense covered by the NJ Criminal Code under N.J.S.A. 2C:14-4. Lewdness can be classified as either a disorderly persons offense or a felony-level offense, depending on the underlying circumstances. A person can face lewdness charges if they intentionally expose their private parts in a public space and the lewd act is likely to be observed by someone who has not consented. A charge for a disorderly persons offense can result in a sentence of six (6) months in the county jail, while a charge for felony lewdness can lead to a sentence of 18 months in state prison.

Talk to an Essex County Criminal Defense Lawyer About Felony Lewdness Charges

A conviction for lewdness can have devastating consequences, but even an arrest for lewdness can be humiliating. That’s why it is imperative that you speak with a qualified criminal defense lawyer who can defend you against the charges. Travis J. Tormey, the founding partner of the Tormey Law Firm, is an experienced criminal attorney who knows how to help you fight sex offense charges in Essex County, New Jersey. If you face lewdness charges in Irvington, Newark, East Orange, or anywhere else in Essex County, contact Attorney Tormey now.

Newark Shooting Suspect Faces Murder Charges After Victim Dies in Hospital

Posted in Homicide

Newark Man Allegedly Shot into Parked Vehicle

Murder Suspect in Newark NJA Newark, NJ man has been charged with first degree murder in connection with a fatal shooting. The suspect, 25-year-old Robert Steele, allegedly used a firearm to shoot the victim on the 100 block of Littleton Avenue in Newark, New Jersey. The shooting occurred around 11:15 p.m., with Steele allegedly firing several gunshots at a car parked along the street. The shooting victim, also a Newark, NJ resident, suffered critical wounds and needed medical treatment at University Hospital. Tragically, the victim died seven days later.

The Newark Police Department Major Crimes Unit worked quickly to investigate the violent crime and identified Steele as the shooting suspect. Just one day after the incident, members of the Newark Police Fugitive Apprehension Team and the U.S. Marshals Service found the suspect in Newark and arrested him.

Attempted Murder Charges Upgraded to First Degree Murder Charges

Police are not offering many details about the investigation into the homicide. Newark Public Safety Director Anthony Ambrose released a statement and said that Steele is charged with first degree murder. That was not initially the case: Steele was first charged with attempted murder. However, the charges were upgraded shortly after the victim died due to his injuries. This matters a great deal because Steele now faces life imprisonment if he is ultimately convicted at trial in Essex County Superior Court. N.J.S.A. 2C:11-3 classifies murder is as a special kind of first degree felony that carries a minimum punishment of 30 years in state prison and a maximum punishment of life in state prison.

Steele is also charged with multiple criminal weapons offenses, including unlawful possession of a weapon and possession of a weapon for an unlawful purpose. As a result, Steele could also face prison time if he is convicted on the weapons offense charges. New Jersey gun laws carry severe penalties – and NJ Superior Court judges won’t hesitate to enforce the maximum penalties allowable under the law.

Contact an Experienced Newark, NJ Criminal Attorney Who Defends Clients Against Homicide Charges

Anyone charged with murder in Newark, West Orange, Montclair, or anywhere else in Essex County should make sure that they have an aggressive criminal defense attorney representing them throughout the legal process. Travis J. Tormey, the founding partner of the Tormey Law Firm, is an experienced criminal defense lawyer who knows how to help clients beat charges for murder and attempted murder. Contact Attorney Tormey anytime to schedule a free consultation.

Alleged Burglar Killed by Homeowner in Belleville, New Jersey

Posted in Homicide

Belleville, NJ Authorities: Home Invasion Suspect Shot with Own Gun

Belleville Criminal Defense AttorneysEssex County police are looking into a Belleville, NJ home invasion that teft the alleged burglar dead. The burglary incident happened on Halloween night, at around 10:00 p.m. The suspect, 42-year-old Michael Ridley, entered a house on Berton Place in Belleville, New Jersey and got into a physical altercation with a 32-year-old resident who was home at the time. According to authorities, Ridley was armed with a gun when he gained access to the residence. The Essex County Prosecutor’s Office and the Belleville Police Department later issued a joint press release and stated that Ridley initially used the handgun to shoot the resident. When the resident gained control of the weapon, he reportedly fired at least one gunshot at Ridley.

Ridley sustained a serious gunshot wound and then fled the area. He only got to the Belleville-Nutley border before he collapsed to the ground. Emergency medical responders found Ridley at the border and prounced him dead at the scene. The Belleville, NJ home resident was transported by ambulance to a nearby hospital so that he could receive medical treatment for a gunshot wound and other injuries suffered in the attack. He was later released from the hospital.

NJ Felony Murder Charges

Essex County Prosecutor’s Office detectives are investigating the fatal shooting and attempting to determine exactly what happened in the violent incident. It is believed that there may have been another person who broke into the Belleville, residence. Although no arrests have been made at this time, it’s possible that criminal charges could be announced in the near future. Depending on the circumstances, the other suspect could be charged with burglary, theft of movable property, criminal weapons offenses, and even felony murder.

The other suspect could face murder charges despite the fact that he or she did not possess the firearm used to kill Ridley. A lot will depend on how prosecutors interpret the case and on what an Essex County Superior Court jury ultimately decides. Under the New Jersey Criminal Code, a felony murder conviction can apply even if the homicide was an accident and even if the person being charged with felony murder did not intend to commit a murder. What matters is that a person was killed during the commission of a felony.

Felonies that can lead to a felony murder charge in NJ include:

Contact an Experienced Essex County Criminal Defense Lawyer Who Handles Murder Cases

If you were arrested for a violent crime in Essex County, NJ, Travis Tormey and his team of criminal defense lawyers at the Tormey Law Firm can defend you against the criminal charges. Our experienced attorneys can help you fight a murder or manslaughter charge in NJ because they have successfully represented clients facing felony charges in Superior Courts throughout the state. Contact us today to begin your defense.

Newark Police Captain Admits Stealing Information from Insurance Database: Part Two

Posted in Theft Offenses

Defendant in Newark Police Data Breach Likely to Avoid Prison

Newark Theft LawyersIn Part One of this blog series, we learned about the arrests of two former officers with the Newark Police Department: police captain Anthony Buono and police officer Dino D’Elia. Buono and D’Elia were arrested and charged with illegally accessing a law enforcement database to steal insurance information. The two suspects then allegedly sold the stolen information to individuals and companies for a profit. After an investigation by internal affairs detectives, both Buono and D’Elia were suspended from their jobs and charges with felonies for computer theft and conspiracy.

Earlier in 2017, D’Elia reached a plea agreement with Essex County prosecutors and pleaded guilty to the charges for computer theft. Buono later reached a similar plea deal with the Essex County Prosecutor’s Office. Buono recently appeared in the Essex County Superior Court in Newark and admitted to his role in the computer data breach. Buono formally pleaded guilty to one count of computer theft. Superior Court Judge Michael Ravin accepted the guilty plea and will officially sentence Buono on January 8, 2018. It is expected that Buono will be placed on probation and avoid prison time. However, he will be required to surrender his job with the Newark police force and will also be prohibited from maintaining public employment in NJ.

Avoiding Trial & Plea Agreements in Essex County, New Jersey

If Buono had fought the charges and gone to trial, the consequences could have been much worse. Buono initially faced second degree felony charges, which meant that a conviction would have resulted in a potential prison sentence of 10 years in NJ State Prison. Of course, most New Jersey criminal cases are resolved before trial. When a defendant is guilty, they typically don’t want to risk a conviction – so, they plead guilty to a lesser offense. When a defendant is not guilty, an aggressive criminal defense attorney may be able to get the case resolved through pre-trial proceedings by convincing prosecutors to reduce or drop the charges.

Anyone charged with a felony in Newark needs to hire an experienced criminal defense lawyer to handle their case. The reality is that prosecutors are more willing to discuss a criminal case with a defense lawyer. Moreover, a qualified attorney can ensure that you do not get pressured into accepting a bad plea deal that leaves you with a criminal record.

Contact Newark Criminal Defense Lawyer Travis Tormey to Discuss Your Case and Start Building Your Defense

If you were arrested for a criminal offense, such as theft, fraud, or conspiracy, you need an experienced criminal defense lawyer on your side. A conviction for a felony in Essex County, NJ could result in significant penalties that include prison, probation, and/or fines. Newark criminal defense attorney Travis Tormey and his legal team at the Tormey Law Firm have helped countless clients in Essex County avoid severe penalties in criminal cases. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation about your case.

Newark Police Captain Admits Stealing Information from Insurance Database: Part One

Posted in Theft Offenses

Newark Internal Affairs Investigation Results in Arrest of Police Captain Accused of Data Breach

Data Breach by Newark Police CaptainA captain with the Newark Police Department was caught stealing confidential information from a computer database, ultimately resulting in the loss of his job with law enforcement.

The suspect in the computer theft case is 62-year-old Anthony Buono, a resident of Millstone Township in Monmouth County and a captain on the Newark police force – at least he was a captain until recently pleading guilty to very serious criminal charges. Buono used his high-ranking position with the police department to gain access to a computer database typically reserved for use by police investigators during insurance fraud investigations. Buono reportedly took information from the database and passed it along to Dino D’Elia, another police officer in Newark. D’Elia then sold the confidential information to individuals and made as much as $100 per computer search – with both Buono and D’Elia sharing the profits. According to prosecutors, Buono accessed the database for unlawful purposes more than 900 times before authorities discovered the criminal conduct in 2014.

The Essex County Prosecutor’s Office Official Corruption Unit and the Newark Police Department Internal Affairs Unit worked together on an investigation into the suspects. In 2015, both Buono and D’Elia were formally charged.

N.J.S.A. 2C:5-2: NJ Conspiracy Charges

Buono and D’Elia were charged with computer theft and conspiracy. The conspiracy charge stemmed from the fact that two people, Buono and D’Elia, had knowingly engaged in conduct constituting a crime. As set forth by N.J.S.A. 2C:5-2, conspiracy is an indictable felony and can result in severe penalties.

Here are the parts of the New Jersey conspiracy statute most relevant to this case:

2C:5-2. Conspiracy:
a. Definition of conspiracy. A person is guilty of conspiracy with another person or persons to commit a crime if with the purpose of promoting or facilitating its commission he:
(1) Agrees with such other person or persons that they or one or more of them will engage in conduct which constitutes such crime or an attempt or solicitation to commit such crime; or
(2) Agrees to aid such other person or persons in the planning or commission of such crime or of an attempt or solicitation to commit such crime.
b. Scope of conspiratorial relationship. If a person guilty of conspiracy, as defined by subsection a. of this section, knows that a person with whom he conspires to commit a crime has conspired with another person or persons to commit the same crime, he is guilty of conspiring with such other person or persons, whether or not he knows their identity, to commit such crime.
c. Conspiracy with multiple objectives. If a person conspires to commit a number of crimes, he is guilty of only one conspiracy so long as such multiple crimes are the object of the same agreement or continuous conspiratorial relationship. It shall not be a defense to a charge under this section that one or more of the objectives of the conspiracy was not criminal; provided that one or more of its objectives or the means of promoting or facilitating an objective of the conspiracy is criminal.
d. Overt act. No person may be convicted of conspiracy to commit a crime other than a crime of the first or second degree or distribution or possession with intent to distribute a controlled dangerous substance or controlled substance analog as defined in chapter 35 of this title, unless an overt act in pursuance of such conspiracy is proved to have been done by him or by a person with whom he conspired.

Newark, NJ Police Officers “Compromise the Public’s Trust” When They Commit Crimes

Shortly after Buono and D’Elia were arrested and criminally charged in 2014, Acting Essex County Prosecutor Carolyn Murray issued a statement and said that members of the public “should not have to worry that sensitive information will be illegally accessed” by police officers. Murray added that the two defendants in this case had “compromised the public’s trust” by unlawfully accessing confidential information and then selling that information.

To find out what happened to Buono and D’Elia in the data breach case, read Part Two of this blog series.

Newark NJ Man Wins Appeal, Will Be Re-Sentenced in Homicide Case

Posted in Homicide

Murder Defense Lawyer in Newark NJA Newark man convicted in the violent kidnapping and murder of a Green Brook, New Jersey woman has won an appeal that calls for him to be re-sentenced.

In 2008, the suspect reportedly kidnapped the 35-year-old victim during a robbery attempt. The suspect was reportedly having an affair with the victim and learned that her boyfriend had a safe filled with cash in their Green Brook, NJ home.

The suspect and his three alleged co-conspirators allegedly shot the victim to death and then left her body in a car in Elizabeth, New Jersey. Additionally, the suspect allegedly set fire to the victim’s body.

In 2014, a jury convicted the suspect on several criminal charges, including charges for kidnapping and first degree murder. The jury acquitted the suspect on charges of arson.

The suspect later appealed his conviction and the life sentence he received.

Now an appeals court has ruled that the suspect should be resentenced because the trial court judge erred in considering arson as an “aggravating factor” in the sentencing.

For further information about this case, check out the NJ.com article, “Man Serving Life Term for Kidnapping, Murder to Be Re-Sentenced.”

Suspect Faces Child Pornography Charges in Federal Court in Newark, NJ

Posted in Homicide

Child Pornography Attorney in Newark NJA worker with the New Jersey Department of Corrections faces criminal charges for a sex crime after police allegedly found images of child sexual abuse on his computer. If the suspect does not work out a plea agreement with federal prosecutors, he will probably have to stand trial in U.S. District Court in Newark, NJ.

The suspect is a 37-year-old resident of Lodi in Bergen County and is employed as a corrections officer for East Jersey State Prison. According to federal authorities, the suspect went online and used email to “seek and obtain images of child sexual abuse, including images of prepubescent children.”

Law enforcement started an investigation into the suspect after an undercover detective reportedly saw a Craigslist ad posted by the suspect. That advertisement reportedly indicated a desire to view “perverted” images of children.

The investigation ended when the suspect allegedly told the undercover cop that he wanted sexual photos of an eight-year-old girl. Police then raided the suspect’s Lodi home and allegedly found child pornography files on his computer.

The suspect has been charged with receiving child pornography.

For additional information about this case, read the NJ.com article, “N.J. Corrections Officer Accused of Having Child Pornography.”

Newark Police Investigate Two Fatal Shootings

Posted in Homicide

Newark Murder Defense AttorneyPolice in Newark, NJ are investigating two separate shootings that resulted in the deaths of a man and a woman.

The first shooting occurred just after 7:00 p.m. on the 300 block of Irvine Turner Boulevard in Newark, New Jersey. The victim was walking on the street when someone shot and killed him. At the time of his death, the victim was 25 years old.

Just a few hours after the first shooting incident, a 28-year-old Newark NJ woman was also shot and killed. She was reportedly walking along the 100 block of Hedden Terrace when someone shot her. Paramedics later declared the victim dead at the scene of the shooting.

Detectives with the Newark Police Department are actively investigating the two homicides. If investigators can eventually identify a culprit for one shooting, or for both shootings, it’s possible that Essex County prosecutors could file criminal charges for first degree murder and for weapons offenses.

A conviction on the most serious charges of first degree murder could result in life imprisonment for the culprit.

For additional information, view the NJ.com article, “Separate Shootings Leave 2 Dead in Newark.”