Attorney General: Troopers in High-Speed Luxury Car Escort Altered Plates
The troopers have been criminally charged in connection with the March 2012 incident.
Two state troopers have been criminally charged in connection with providing a high-speed escort on the Garden State Parkway for a fleet of luxury cars, the New Jersey Attorney General’s Office announced Friday.
The New Jersey State Police (NJSP) received complaints regard the March 2012 caravan to Atlantic City, and the troopers were subsequently suspended without pay in April.
“They turned the highway into a virtual speedway,” Attorney General Jeffrey S. Chiesa said in a press conference in Trenton on Friday. "What they did was absolutely wrong."
An investigation into the incident found that the troopers, Sgt. First Class Nadir Nassry, 47, and Trooper Joseph Ventrella, 28, allegedly concealed the license plates on their NJSP vehicles to avoid detection by E-ZPass cameras, Chiesa said.
The troopers allegedly used black electrical tape to chage the numbers on their license plates, and the attorney general said Nassry also directed the drivers of the sports cars to use tape or other means to partially conceal their plates.
The troopers have been charged with fourth-degree falsifying or tampering with records. Nassry, a 25-year veteran of the NJSP, faces an additional third-degree charge of tampering with public records or information.
“This is a public safety issue plain and simple. Thankfully, thankfully no one was hurt,” Chiesa said.
Complaints about the high-speed caravan in March led to an investigation of a 2010 escort of other luxury vehicles, according to the attorney general's office. Four troopers face disciplinary charges in connection with the 2010 incident, which was captured on a YouTube video. Disciplinary charges have also been filed against a trooper who improperly handled a traffic ticket issued to a member of a driving club who was stopped for speeding on the Garden State Parkway in his Lamborghini in 2010.
“We're not in the business of endangering the public, we're in the business of protecting the public,” Chiesa said.
The drivers of the luxury cars will not be issued speeding tickets or motor vehicle summonses for altering their license plates during the caravan as a 30-day time limit to issue such summonses has passed, he said.
The NJSP will adopt new standard operating procedures, placing an emphasis on public safety and with enhanced provisions governing when escorts will be authorized, according to State Police Superintendent Colonel Rick Fuentes.