NJ Office of The Attorney General 2015 Annual Report


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New Jersey Office of The Attorney General 2015 Annual Report

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A20n1n5ual Report John J. Hoffman, Acting Attorney General of New Jersey


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OAG Annual Report Overview Dear Governor Christie, members of the State Legislature and Citizens of New Jersey: Greetings. At the Office of the Attorney General, we have a unique role as both New Jersey’s lead law enforcement agency and its chief provider of legal representation to state government. That is, we are a multi-faceted crime-fighting agency and the State’s largest law firm rolled into one. Our essential mission includes making neighborhoods safer by combating violent crime, narcotics dealing, gang activity, sexual predators and other criminal threats. It includes prosecuting financial fraud and public corruption. It includes preserving civil rights and protecting consumers and investors. But the mission does not end there. We work to ensure the safety of drivers, passengers and pedestrians on our streets and roads. We ensure the integrity of New Jersey’s legalized casino gaming and horse racing industries. We license and regulate the alcoholic beverage industry, and are responsible for the custody, care and post-custodial supervision of juvenile offenders. We also handle – literally -- tens of thousands of litigation matters each year in the service of protecting New Jersey’s precious environmental resources, safeguarding our children, preserving the State’s financial assets, ensuring the integrity of elections and defending the actions of state government. We assist crime victims, provide emergency management services, work to protect New Jersey citizens from the threat of terror, and handle many other responsibilities as well. New Jersey is a state of more than 8 million people and a hub of national and international commerce, air travel and shipping. It is a center for manufacturing, education, health care, sports and entertainment, and a global vacation destination. Against this backdrop, it is not hyperbole to suggest the work of our office is essential, and touches the lives of millions of people daily. At the Office of the Attorney General, we have an incredibly skilled, knowledgeable and dedicated work force made up of civilian personnel and sworn law enforcement members. Each day we work to improve the quality of life throughout our state, and each day we achieve results that make a difference. For a fuller view of our office and its work, I invite you to explore the pages that follow, and to visit the individual Web sites of our various Divisions and Commissions. At the Office of the Attorney General, we are proud of our people and proud of our achievements. However, we also recognize that the office’s mission is a continuum, that there is always more to learn, and that there is always more to be accomplished. We work every day not only to address traditional law and public safety concerns, but to anticipate new crime trends and effectively address emerging threats. It is our privilege to serve the citizens of New Jersey. John J. Hoffman Acting Attorney General I


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New Jersey Office of The Attorney General • Department of Law & Public Safety This page was intentionally left blank II


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TCaoblne toef nts Division of Law....................................................................................... 2 Division of Criminal Justice................................................................... 8 Division of State Police........................................................................ 20 Division on Civil Rights ........................................................................ 28 Division of Consumer Affairs .............................................................. 36 Division of Highway Traffic Safety ....................................................... 44 Division of Alcoholic Beverage Control............................................... 48 Division of Gaming Enforcement ....................................................... 52 Juvenile Justice Commission .............................................................. 60 Racing Commission............................................................................. 66 1


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New Jersey Office of The Attorney General • Department of Law & Public Safety DLiaviswion of


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Division of Law The Division of Law provides legal counsel and representation to agencies of state government on many issues vital to the quality of life of New Jersey residents. These issues include protecting children from abuse and neglect, preserving the environment, ensuring the delivery of quality health care, protecting consumers and safeguarding civil rights. The Attorney General has a statutory duty to serve as both legal adviser to all “officers, departments, boards, bodies, commissions and instrumentalities” of state government, and to defend state laws. It is through the work of Division attorneys that this mission is accomplished. In 2015, the Division handled approximately 39,000 pending legal matters and resolved or closed 20,000 matters. Division attorneys also provided valuable legal advice to “client agencies” to assist them in avoiding potential legal issues. Through their actions on behalf of the State and through legal defense work, Division lawyers also protected New Jersey’s State Treasury in such areas as employment litigation, tort litigation, tax litigation and bankruptcy. To learn more about the Division of Law visit www.nj.gov/oag/law. aRnedcoJvuedrgiemsents Through the efforts of Division of Law attorneys, the State obtained more than $451 million in recoveries and judgments in 2015. Monies obtained by the Division on behalf of the State included settlements and judgments resulting from environmental litigation, debt recovery, and lawsuits alleging consumer, securities and other fraud, as well as other types of affirmative litigation. PEnrovtierocntimonental ExxonMobil Settlement: Division attorneys, working closely with outside counsel, negotiated a historic $225 million settlement with ExxonMobil in 2015 that resolved the company’s liability for environmental damage and injury to natural resources caused by contamination from ExxonMobil refinery operations in Bayonne and Linden. The settlement also addressed environmental harm caused by other ExxonMobil facilities and service stations throughout the state. The landmark agreement, which resolved a decade of litigation between the State and ExxonMobil, represents the single largest environmental settlement with a corporate defendant in New Jersey history. It also represents the second largest Natural Resource Damages payout by a single company in U.S. history. The settlement was approved by a New Jersey Superior Court Judge in August 2015. MTBE Litigation: The State entered into two separate settlements worth a total of $15.5 million that resolved litigation against two defendants alleged to have caused groundwater contamination with the gasoline additive MTBE (Methyl Tertiary Butyl Ether). Acting on behalf of the Department of Environmental Protection, Division attorneys previously had filed suit against multiple oil and chemical companies for causing damage to New Jersey’s groundwater by manufacturing, blending and distributing MTBE. In 2015 one defendant, Lyondell Chemical Company, settled with the State for $13.4 million. A second defendant, the global energy company Vitol, also settled with the State – for $2.15 million. Remaining defendants in the ongoing litigation include major petroleum refiners, distributors and sellers of gasoline in New Jersey, as well as independent chemical manufacturers of MTBE. Tidelands Cases: In 2015, Division attorneys successfully defended the State’s claim in the consolidated appeals in the Lisowski and Delanco cases. At issue in those cases was whether the State had perfected its claims to certain tideland property within the time restriction established by the 1981 amendment to the New Jersey Constitution. The amendment applies to “lands that were formerly tidal flowed, but which have not been tidal flowed at any time for a period of 40 years.,” and precluded the State from claiming such lands as riparian unless the State has “specifically defined and asserted such a claim pursuant to law within the 40year period.” Both the Lisowski and Delanco cases challenged the sufficiency of the State’s proofs that it provided timely notice of its claim. The court found in both cases that the State had, in fact, complied with the 1981 amendment’s requirements. 3


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New Jersey Office of The Attorney General • Department of Law & Public Safety Pensions Litigation times into its tracking system, thereby creating the appearance that packages were Burgos v. State: Division lawyers delivered by their guaranteed times when, successfully argued before the New Jersey in fact, they were not. A global package Supreme Court in 2015 that while the delivery company with its headquarters Legislature definitely wanted the State to in Georgia, UPS allegedly engaged in the pay billions of dollars into the pension fund unlawful conduct between 2008 and 2013 each year when it passed the 2011 law by inaccurately logging in delivery times on known as Chapter 78, the law would be premium-rate Next Day Air (NDA) packages unconstitutional if the State was forced to charged to State of New Jersey accounts. make this yearly payment. The Court held The result was that NDA packages appeared that a part of the Constitution known as in UPS’ tracking system to have been the Debt Limitation Clause prevents the delivered on schedule when, in fact, they Legislature from forcing the State to pay such were late. UPS employees also allegedly huge amounts year after year. The State used inapplicable or inappropriate “exception must be free each year to spend its money codes” to excuse the overdue deliveries. for its most pressing needs such as hospitals, Among the false reasons for delay cited schools and police protection. were security-related procedures, and that customers had requested late delivery. aCnodnsoutmheerr,FSraeucdurities Standard & Poor’s: The Division reached a $21.5 million settlement with Standard & Poor’s on behalf of New Jersey as part of a global settlement resolving allegations that the company violated the State’s Consumer Fraud Act and Advertising Regulations by misleading consumers about its independence and objectivity in rating structured finance securities. Under the global settlement, Standard & Poor’s paid New Jersey, 18 other states, the District of Columbia and the U.S. Department of Justice a total of $1.375 billion to resolve the lawsuits filed against it. The settlement resolves allegations that Standard & Poor’s harmed consumers by falsely claiming to be an independent source of analysis on complex investments known as structured finance securities when, in fact, its ratings of the securities were driven by its own revenue goals, as well as favoritism toward investment banking clients who issued securities and paid the company related fees. In addition to its settlement payout, Standard and Poor’s agreed to injunctive relief against future violations of New Jersey’s consumer protection laws. United Parcel Service: The Division reached a $740,000 settlement with United Parcel Service (UPS) to resolve allegations it violated the New Jersey False Claims Act. Specifically, UPS was accused of avoiding payment of contractually-promised refunds for late delivery by entering false delivery Chase Bank USA and Chase Bankcard Services: New Jersey received approximately $7 million as a result of its participation in a multi-state and federal settlement with Chase Bank, USA and Chase Bankcard Services, Inc. that resolved allegations that Chase used false affidavits to support debt collection lawsuits and engaged in other deceptive, collection-related business practices. Among other unfair and misleading practices, Chase was accused of employing “robo-signed” debt collection affidavits – affidavits from staffers who either had no direct knowledge of, or had not authenticated the information in, the affidavits – when creating case files against consumers it was suing over unpaid debt. Accutest Laboratories: Middlesex-countybased Accutest Laboratories agreed in 2015 to pay the State $2 million to resolve allegations that it deviated from both state and federal requirements for the extraction and testing of certain compounds while doing testing work for the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection. Allegations central to the case flowed from a federal qui tam or “whistleblower” lawsuit filed in 2013 by a former Accutest employee. The federal lawsuit alleged that Accutest violated both the federal and New Jersey False Claims Acts by contracting with government agencies to test certain semi-volatile organic compounds, but not following U.S. Environmental Protection Agency requirements for doing so. Specifically, the lawsuit alleged that some line-level technicians in Accutest’s extraction laboratories failed to comply with Standard Operating Procedures or prescribed testing methods. 4


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Division of Law Vincent P. Falci Judgment/Restitution: In September 2015, the Division obtained a judgment against former Middletown fire chief Vincent P. Falci related to his having fraudulently raised more than $5.4 million from the sale of unregistered securities to approximately 185 investors. Falci misrepresented to those who bought the securities that their money would be invested primarily in tax liens. In reality, Falci transferred much of the money to other companies he owned and used a portion of the money to buy residential property in his own name. In addition, Falci and his son used some of the misallocated money to engage in day trading. A Consent Order issued by the court against Falci, his companies and his family included a judgment and promise of full restitution to Falci’s investors totaling more than $6.7 million, and a civil monetary payment of $800,000. Amgen: The Division of Law obtained $1.57 million as a result of its participation in a multi-state settlement with pharmaceutical manufacturer Amgen that resolved allegations the company unlawfully promoted two of its drugs – Aranesp and Enbrel – for uses not approved by the federal Food and Drug Administration. Among other things, Amgen was accused of promoting Aransep for off-label use in treating patients with anemia caused by cancer, despite clinical evidence that failed to support such a use. Amgen also was accused of overstating the effectiveness of its drug Enbrel for treating certain types of psoriasis while understating the drug’s risks. Stericycle, Inc.: Division of Law attorneys obtained approximately $589,000 as the State’s portion of a multi-state settlement that resolved allegations Stericycle, Inc., an Illinois-based medical waste disposal company, committed federal and state False Claims Act violations by imposing unwarranted surcharges on government customers. In New Jersey, Stericycle has provided medical waste disposal services to government entities including colleges, school districts, police departments, health departments and correctional facilities. TShuiprdp-lPiearrLtyitiEgnaetirogny HIKO and Systrum: In 2015, the Division of Law achieved significant settlements with two third-party suppliers of electricity and gas – HIKO Energy, LLC and Keil & Sons, Inc. d/b/a Systrum Energy. The State’s original complaints against the two third-party suppliers alleged violations of the Electric Discount and Energy Competition Act, as well as violations of several other state energy and consumer protection statutes. Under the HIKO settlement, HIKO agreed to a $2.1 million payout, including approximately $1.8 million in consumer restitution. As part of the settlement, HIKO also was required to substantially change its business practices to provide for greater consumer protection. Under the Systrum settlement, Systrum agreed to an overall payout of $554,000 including $436,000 in restitution, $50,000 in civil penalties and more than $68,000 in attorneys’ fees and costs. As part of the settlement Systrum, like HIKO, was required to modify its business practices to provide for greater consumer protection. Internet Privacy The Division of Law continued its vigorous efforts to safeguard consumer privacy over the Internet in 2015, as evidenced by several significant case settlements including: DealerAppVantage Settlement: In September 2015, the Division entered into a settlement with DealerAppVantage LLC that resolved allegations the company’s mobile applications transmitted personal and other consumer information to the app developer without consumers’ knowledge or consent in violation of the New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act. In addition to injunctive relief and reporting requirements, DealerApp agreed to a settlement payment of $48,000, which incorporated civil penalties and reimbursement of attorneys’ fees and investigative costs. Based upon DealerApp’s compliance with the investigation, the Division suspended approximately $26,000 of the total settlement payment. 5


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New Jersey Office of The Attorney General • Department of Law & Public Safety Equiliv Investments: In June 2015, the Division filed a joint complaint with the Federal Trade Commission in the U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey alleging that Equiliv Investments, LLC developed a mobile application called “Prized” that created a botnet (a number of Internet-connected devices that have been set up to forward transmissions – including spam and other viruses – to other computers/devices on the Internet) of consumers’ mobile phones for purposes of mining for cryptocurrency without the consumers’ knowledge or consent, in violation of the Consumer Fraud Act and the Credit Repair Organizations Act. In addition, the Division simultaneously obtained a joint Stipulated Order for Permanent Injunction and Monetary Judgment to resolve the action. Stipulated Order provides for substantial injunctive relief and extensive reporting requirements, as well as a total penalty of $50,000. Out of the total penalty, $44,800 was suspended pending Equiliv’s compliance with the Stipulated Order. Other Highlights Child Protection: In 2015, the Division of Law’s Department of Children and Families (DCF) Practice Group continued to work closely with the State’s Department of Children and Families to protect children from abuse and neglect, and to seek termination of parental rights when necessary. Through litigation, Division attorneys also facilitated DCF’s ability to find caring adoptive families for children when their biological parents were unable to safely care for them. As a result of these efforts, more than 1,000 children were adopted following successful termination of parental rights. For the year, Division lawyers filed more than 6,000 child abuse and guardianship cases in Superior Court to protect children, institute services for families or, if necessary, place children in protective custody or guardianship. Physician Licensure Actions: The Division of Law litigated numerous medical licensing matters before the New Jersey Board of Medical Examiners in 2015. Through those efforts, the Division obtained license suspensions against four physicians found to have indiscriminately prescribed prescription pain killers. In addition, Division attorneys obtained license suspensions against two other physicians for inappropriate sexual relations/touching. Civil Insurance Fraud Recovery: Division of Law attorneys represent the Bureau of Fraud Deterrence (within the Department of Banking and Insurance) in prosecuting civil insurance fraud cases. In calendar year 2015, the Division obtained orders for fines, attorney fees and costs totaling $2.69 million, and restitution of more than $329,000. In one notable case, chiropractor Scott Greenberg settled allegations of civil insurance fraud related to his criminal conviction for using “runners”to illegally recruit and treat 164 patients at his chiropractic facility. Greenberg previously was convicted of various crimes by the Office of the Insurance Fraud Prosecutor and, in 2015, paid a total of $500,000 to resolve the State’s civil action to impose monetary penalties. Greenberg paid a total of $450,000 in civil penalties, an insurance surcharge of $22,500 and attorney fees of $27,500. The fines were paid via the proceeds of the auction sale of Greenberg’s Princeton-area estate. Camden Waterfront Development: The Division of Law worked closely with the New Jersey Economic Development Authority (EDA) on transfer of the development rights for the Camden Waterfront to a new developer. The right to develop a large portion of the waterfront had been granted to a subsidiary of the Steiner Company in 2005. The development agreement was for a period of 12 years, and included monetary and construction milestones. Although the Steiner subsidiary had met its milestones in the early years of the agreement, it was on the verge of defaulting in 2015. Liberty Property Trust, a successful Philadelphia developer, expressed interest in buying the development rights, but this was not permitted under the development agreement. The Division of Law and EDA worked closely with the entities to oversee Liberty Property Trust’s purchase of the Steiner subsidiary, which allowed Liberty to step into Steiner’s shoes. Legal Challenge to the Horizon Blue Cross/ Blue Shield OMNIA Network: In a high-profile case, the Division successfully defended a determination by the state Department of Banking and Insurance to approve Horizon Blue Cross/Blue Shield’s new OMNIA Network, which took effect during the 2016 calendar year. The OMNIA Network is a tiered health insurance network which charges consumers lower premiums and out-of-pocket costs when they seek care from a specified list of 6


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Division of Law “preferred” hospitals and doctors. In 2015, a total of 11 hospitals in the non-preferred tier of the OMNIA Network filed an appeal of the State’s approval, as well as a Motion to Stay implementation of the new Network pending the outcome of its legal opposition. Acting on an expedited basis, the Appellate Division denied the request for stay and upheld DOBI’s approval “in all respects.” In doing so, the court ruled that the OMNIA Network was established under DOBI’s review in “strict accordance with the current statutes and regulations.” The court further observed that the non-preferred tier hospitals held a view of how tiered benefit networks should be implemented that can “only be addressed by the Legislature.” In response to the Appellate ruling, the 11 non-preferred hospitals filed a petition for certification with the New Jersey Supreme Court. That petition was denied. Banking, Insurance Industry Enforcement: The Division handles cases involving the Department of Banking and Insurance’s disciplinary action against individuals and corporations licensed by DOBI for violation of New Jersey’s banking and insurance laws. During calendar year 2015, Division attorneys obtained 40 license revocations and more than $4.6 million in fines, costs and restitution on behalf of the department. In one notable case, the Division obtained license revocations, $165,000 in civil penalties and more than $2.5 million in restitution from Nancy Zeiring, Madison Financial Aid Consultants, Alan Neafach and Ameritas Insurance Co. Zeiring and Nefach had been encouraging the parents of high school students to purchase Universal Life Insurance policies with the proceeds of refinanced mortgages and other investments as a means of paying for college expenses. In reality, the policies at issue were longerterm investments and entirely unsuitable for financing college for high school students. Investors were forced to pay huge “surrender” penalties to liquidate the policies, resulting in millions of dollars in losses when they’d been led to believe their investment would help pay for college. Zeiring and Neafach agreed to license revocations and Ameritas Insurance agreed to pay restitution to those parents who suffered losses. Community Healthcare Asset Protection Act (CHAPA): On behalf of the Attorney General, the Division reviews many sales and other transfers of New Jersey non-profit hospital assets pursuant to CHAPA, as well as the common law. In 2015, the DOL reviewed and completed several complex transactions, including the sale of St. Clare’s Health System to a subsidiary of Prime Healthcare Services, Inc., a for-profit, California-based corporation. Charities Review: The Attorney General, in his role as protector of the public interest in charitable gifts, receives hundreds of notices annually of such gifts made by decedents. The Division reviews related accountings to ensure that these charitable gifts are not reduced due to overstated fees, commissions or other improper charges. In a notable 2015 case, after a year of litigation, the DOL reached a favorable settlement in IMO Ogburn, resulting in most of the decedent’s estate being paid to charity. Plaintiffs (decedent’s longtime caregivers) attempted to probate a handwritten document, seeking the majority of decedent’s estate as opposed to decedent’s 2006 executed will, which left her estate to charities to be named. Based on the Division’s discovery and the subsequent settlement, the decedent’s donative intent was met and the American Indian Educational Fund, League of Women Voters, Sierra Club and American Cancer Society shared approximately $400,000. Debt Recovery and Protecting the State’s Financial Assets: In 2015, the Division’s Debt Recovery Section collected more than $12 million through litigation efforts in both state and federal court, as well as post-judgment collection actions brought on behalf of various state agencies. The post-judgment collection efforts included seizing assets, filing wage execution applications and filing motions to secure funds. The majority of the Division’s debt recovery work is done on behalf of the Division of Taxation, the Department of Labor and New Jersey Transit. 7


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New Jersey Office of The Attorney General • Department of Law & Public Safety DCivriismioninofal Justice


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Division of Criminal Justice New Jersey’s unified, integrated system of law enforcement is unique in the nation. The Criminal Justice Act of 1970 designated the Attorney General as the Chief Law Enforcement Officer of the State. Under the Act, the powers of the Attorney General relating to the detection, interdiction and prosecution of criminal activities are exercised through the Division of Criminal Justice. In addition to its direct law enforcement operations, the Division provides oversight and coordination within New Jersey’s vast law enforcement community. The Division’s mission is to protect the residents of New Jersey by helping to coordinate and enhance the operations and policies of law enforcement at all levels – state, county and municipal. For more information visit www.nj.gov/oag/dcj. Overview In 2015, the Division of Criminal Justice cemented its standing as the state’s leading law enforcement agency. The Division’s work on the streets and in the courtroom resonated forcefully throughout New Jersey communities, and for the third year in a row, the Division charged more cases and more defendants than in the prior year. Meanwhile, the Division’s groundbreaking criminal justice policy work placed the State at the national forefront on such crucial law enforcement issues as accountability, transparency and community relations. Among other successes, the year 2015 saw the Division prosecute sweeping cases against violent street gangs, bring the architects of multi-million-dollar fraud schemes to justice, convict dozens of corrupt public officials, and unmask – and prosecute – dozens of dangerous sexual predators. The Division also seized more than $4 million and more than 25 vehicles from criminals, and obtained judgments forfeiting $2 million. CHGriagimnhgleisgBh&utsOreraguanized Drugs, Gangs and Weapons Operation Next Day Air: Two South Jersey men were sentenced to lengthy prison terms in 2015 for their roles in a coast-to-coast narcotics smuggling ring that was revealed through an investigation nicknamed Operation Next Day Air. In all, the Division obtained indictments against 15 defendants in connection with the ring, which employed the U.S. mail and other parcel services to deliver dozens of kilograms of cocaine from California to New Jersey. Sentenced in July 2015 were defendants Juan M. Cortez of Vineland and co-defendant Angel B. Rivera, also of Vineland. Cortez received an eightyear prison term and Rivera was sentenced to 10 years in prison. Both men had pleaded guilty to charges of first-degree cocaine possession with intent to distribute. Other defendants in the case included brothers Andrew and Kemar Davis, who were charged as leaders of the narcotics trafficking conspiracy. Andrew Davis directed the ring from Jamaica. In total, the Division seized 26 kilograms of cocaine – worth more than $750,000 – plus two handguns and more than $500,000 cash. Kemar Davis pleaded guilty to first-degree charges of being a leader of a narcotics trafficking network and was sentenced to 20 years in state prison, with 12 years of parole ineligibility. Andrew Davis was convicted of first-degree drug distribution and second-degree money laundering, and at this writing faces a state prison term of 30 years. State v. Dr. George Beecher, et al.: In December 2015 the Division arrested seven defendants – including Somerset County physician Dr. George Beecher – in connection with a drug distribution ring that disbursed tens of thousands of high-dose pills of the addictive painkiller oxycodone. Beecher allegedly accepted payments to write fraudulent oxycodone prescriptions for people he had never met or examined, and the other ring members then acquired and sold the painkillers in bulk to street level dealers. 9


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New Jersey Office of The Attorney General • Department of Law & Public Safety State v. Dr. Eugene Evans, et al.: The Division arrested and convicted Dr. Eugene Evans, a Union County physician, in 2015 on charges of conspiring with a drug dealer to illegally distribute thousands of high-dose pills of the addictive painkiller oxycodone by writing phony prescriptions for people the doctor had never examined or treated. Evans was arrested in January, pleaded guilty in April, and was sentenced in July to five years in state prison. David Roth, a drug dealer who conspired with Evans, pleaded guilty to second-degree charges of conspiracy and distribution of controlled dangerous substances. He was sentenced to seven years in state prison. State v. Jorge Avalos, et al.: Defendant Jorge Avalos, of Edinburg, Tx., was sentenced to 10 years in State Prison in January 2015 in connection with a narcotics trafficking investigation carried out by the Division in connection with New Jersey State Police. Avalos was arrested after law enforcement officers seized 21 kilograms of cocaine from a Winnebago recreation vehicle in Jersey City. The intercepted shipment of cocaine had a street value of more than $600,000. A second defendant in the case, Luis Hernandez of Hidalgo, Tx., was sentenced on the same day as Avalos, and also received a 10-year prison term. Both defendants pleaded guilty to a charge of unlawful narcotics trafficking, and both were handed a three-year term of parole ineligibility as part of their sentences. State v. Paul Cano, et al: The Division charged eight defendants with narcotics offenses in 2015 for their respective roles in a drug distribution network. Numerous search warrants were issued in connection with the case, and subsequent searches resulted in the seizure of a kilogram of cocaine and a handgun. Lead defendant Paul Cano, of New Brunswick, pleaded guilty to first-degree narcotics distribution charges and faces a 10year prison sentence as of this writing. Organized Crime Operation Fistful: In 2015, the Division continued to investigate and prosecute Operation Fistful, a major organized crime takedown. In all, 11 defendants were charged in a racketeering case that began with multiple arrests carried out in late 2014. Those arrested included high-ranking “made” members and associates of the Genovese Organized Crime Family, and they were charged with numerous indictable offenses including racketeering and conspiracy. Among those arrested were Genovese Crime Family “capo” Charles “Chuckie” Tuzzo, and Vito Alberti, a Genovese soldier. The Division alleges that Tuzzo, Alberti and the other nine defendants used a network of licensed and unlicensed check cashing businesses to conduct a massive criminal enterprise that included loansharking, gambling, forgery and money laundering. These various criminal enterprises allegedly generated more than $10 million in proceeds for the mafia. The 11 defendants face multiple charges including first-degree racketeering, which carries a sentence of between 10 and 20 years in state prison. Indictments were anticipated in 2016. Operation Heat: Six members of the NewYork-based Lucchese Organized Crime Family pleaded guilty in June 2015 to racketeering charges. The six men were charged in Operation Heat, an investigation by the Division into an illegal, mob-run gambling enterprise that handled billions of dollars in wagers – primarily on sporting events – and relied on extortion and violence to collect debts. The same investigation also uncovered a scheme in which a former New Jersey corrections officer and a high-ranking member of the Nine Trey Gangsters set of the Bloods street gang had entered into an alliance with the Lucchese family to smuggle drugs and pre-paid cell phones into East Jersey State Prison. Among the defendants who pleaded guilty, ruling Lucchese family member Matthew Madonna pleaded guilty to second-degree racketeering and was sentenced to five years in state prison. Defendant Ralph Perna, a Lucchese capo, pleaded guilty to first-degree racketeering and was sentenced to eight years in state prison. A third defendant – Martin Taccetta, a former Lucchese family underboss in New Jersey 10


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Division of Criminal Justice – pleaded guilty to first-degree racketeering and was sentenced to eight years in state prison. Taccetta was already serving a life prison sentence at the time of his guilty plea. Under his plea deal, his eight-year sentence for racketeering will run concurrent. Operation Terminal: A former top International Longshoreman’s Association official – one of three defendants indicted as the result of an extensive Division investigation into criminal activities at the Port of New York and New Jersey – was sentenced to six years in state prison in April 2015. Nunzio LaGrasso, of Florham Park, had pleaded guilty in January 2015 to a second-degree charge of conspiracy to commit commercial bribery and money laundering. LaGrasso was indicted along with Alan Marfia ,of Kenilworth – a former Newark Police officer – and Rocco Ferrandino, of Lakewood, a timekeeper at Port Newark/ Port Elizabeth. The three men were charged with running a scheme to extort money from dockworkers by demanding “tribute” payments in return for better jobs and wages. Ferrandino pleaded guilty to charges of second-degree conspiracy to commit commercial bribery and money laundering, and was sentenced in March 2015 to three years in state prison. Marfia pleaded guilty to third-degree computer theft for using police databases to inform others about undercover police operations. He was sentenced to probation and barred from future law enforcement or other public employment. Murder and Murder-for-Hire State v. Yusuf Ibrahim, et al.: Yusuf Ibrahim of Jersey City was indicted in April 2014 on two counts of first-degree murder and other charges in connection with his having fatally shot two men in the chest at point-blank range, cut off their heads and hands, and buried their remains in a remote area of Atlantic County a year earlier. In December 2015, a Superior Court Judge ruled that Ibrahim’s confession to State Police investigators was admissible as evidence in his future murder trial. (Ibrahim faced a sentence of 30 years to life in state prison if convicted at trial.) His statement to State Police investigators, which he had unsuccessfully sought to suppress, was that he killed the two men during an argument that took place inside a car in Jersey City in February 2013. State v. Denise Nagrodski: Accused murderfor-money schemer Denise Nagrodski pleaded guilty in June 2015 to first-degree attempted murder and murder conspiracy, and was sentenced to 10 years in prison. Nagrodski admitted to hiring someone she thought was a hit man – the “hit man” was actually an undercover detective – to kill her daughter’s ex-boyfriend and two other individuals. Nagrodski met twice with the undercover officer who she thought was a killer-for-hire. During those meetings she gave the officer $1,000, as well as photos of the intended victims and a hand-drawn map of their homes. Nagrodski’s 10-year prison sentence includes an eight-and-a-half-year term of parole ineligibility. Human Trafficking State v. Glen Bowman, et al.: In 2015, the Division indicted five defendants accused of operating a human trafficking ring based in Bergen and Passaic counties. The defendants trafficked underage girls as part of a sex-forsale ring they advertised on Backpage.com. The defendants allegedly lured the underage girls into lives of prostitution, coercing them into having sex with multiple customers at motels and elsewhere, and threatening violence if the girls resisted. The defendants were charged with first-degree human trafficking and other crimes. State v. Michael McLeod, et al.: The Division indicted four defendants on firstdegree human trafficking charges in 2015 for trafficking numerous young women – including a 14-year-old girl – as part of a prostitution ring they operated in and around Hudson County. The defendants were charged with using violence and threats of violence – including holding a gun to the head of one woman – to control their victims and compel their involvement in the sex-for-sale ring. 11



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