Blog Archives

Five arrested for Drug, Weapons Offenses

Police Arrest Five for Drug, Weapons Offenses

Police raid two homes and arrested four men and one woman on charges of drug offenses, weapons offenses, assaulting a police officer and resisting arrest

Read more here:

Divorce Attorney

Eddie Canary, Hoboken basketball star charged with robbery

Eddie Canary, a junior at Hoboken High School and First Team All-County forward for the Hoboken Red Wings was charged with robbery and two counts of inflicting bodily injury and more charges may be on the way as there were two different alleged robberies. 

With the first one, the victim was approached by a group of men.  One man allegedly took $15 out of the victim’s hand.  Afterwards, someone reported that Canary then assaulted the victim leaving him knocked out with a broken collar bone.  The victim later learned that this wallet was stolen. 

With the second case, the police were looking for Canary a short while affter the first robbery.  When they caught up to him, they allegedly found him and assaulting another man. He tried to run off but was caught.  While it doesn’t seem like anything was stolen, the State may charge him with attempted robbery based upon the first case. 

Unless an attorney can pull of some amazing work, it looks like his basketball career is over.  I’ve had worse and kept my clients out of prison.  Robbery cases are weird like that, at least for me.  They are very serious but great deals can be worked out.

Story is here.

Charges for threatening cop dismissed

As an attorney, whenever your  client is charged with threatening or assaulting a cop, you just know that the case is not going to be easy.  The cop may take the case personally and really push to nail your client to the well.  While I’ve always has these cases turn out great, I always assume it is going to be really tough.

Today I had a case where my client was alleged to have threatened to punch a cop to the point where my client allegedly put his fist in the cop’s face.  Not the best fact pattern.  However, I was able to get the case dismissed so my client does not have a criminal record.  How did I do it?  Simple, my client has nothing to lose by going to trial and I let the State know that I am ready to go to war over a case that to them may be minor, but to my client, is very serious.  It was a great result for a great client.

Retired NJ State Trooper allegedly shoots at wife

Toms River police allege that Bruce Figular, a retired NJ State Trooper shot at his wife, but missed.  His wife, who fled the home, did not have any injuries.  Few details were released about the incident, but there were a few interesting details.  One is that it took police at least 90 minutes to go into the house and arrest Figular which suggest some time of stand off and negotiation.  After he was arrested, Figular was brought first to the hospital and then to the jail.  This suggests he either had physical injuries or mental health issues. 

He is charged with aggravated assault which, in this case, is a second degree charge.  Attempted murder is not always charged in these shoot and miss cases as it can be difficult to proove that there was an intent to kill.  I would also like to know if a restraining order was filed as they almost always are in these cases.  If so, he needs a good attorney at the FRO hearing to question the wife to essentially depose her. 

Maybe I’m biased, but I think it also helps to have an attorney that knows his (or her) was around family court as well as criminal court.  While there is a possibility for his wife to get back on his side, there is just as much of a chance of a divorce.  Having one attorney to handle both issues may not only save him a lot of money, but it may make the criminal case much easier to deal with. 

As an attorney, my main focus would be on his mental health status at the time of the offense in addition to taking testimony from the wife at the FRO hearing.  A good mental health defense and/or intoxication defense could be used to keep him out of prison.

Story is here.

Eluding conviction upheld




Plaintiff -Respondent,











Submitted January 27, 2009 – Decided


Before Judges Parker and LeWinn.


On appeal from the Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Union County, Indictment No. 06-11-01099-I.


Robert J. De Groot, attorney for appellant.


Theodore J. Romankow, Union County Prosecutor, attorney for respondent (Peter DeRose, Assistant Prosecutor, of counsel and on the brief).



Tried to a jury on April 10, 2007, defendant was convicted of second-degree eluding a law enforcement officer, N.J.S.A. 2C:29-2(b); and second-degree aggravated assault, causing serious bodily injury while fleeing, N.J.S.A. 2C:12-1(b)(6). On July 13, 2007, defendant was sentenced to two concurrent ten-year terms with an eighty-five percent parole ineligibility period on the second count.

On appeal, defendant raises the following issues for our consideration:

1. Defendant’s Right to Due Process of Law as Guaranteed by the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution and Art. 1 Par. 1 of the New Jersey Constitution was violated by the Prosecutor’s Misconduct. [Not Raised Below]


a. The Prosecutor’s summation expressing his belief that [Officer] Fidalgo testified credibly substantially prejudiced Defendant’s fundamental right to have the jury fairly evaluate the merits of his defense.


b. The Prosecutor’s summation implicitly expressing his belief that Defendant’s Witness was not credible substantially prejudiced [D]efendant’s fundamental right to have the jury fairly evaluate the merits of his defense.


2. Because The Jury Was Permitted To Infer That Defendant’s Conduct Created A “Risk Of Death Or Injury” If It Determined That His Conduct Violated Any of The Motor Vehicle Offenses Set Forth In Chapter 4 of Title 39, And Such Risk Is An Element Of The Second Degree Crime of Eluding, The Trial Court Committed Reversible Error When It Failed To Define And Delimit The Underlying Motor Vehicle Offenses. [Not Raised Below]


Having considered defendant’s contentions in light of the record and the applicable law, we affirm.

The trial evidence may be summarized as follows. Officer Paulo Fidalgo, of the Elizabeth Police Department, testified that on September 1, 2006, just after midnight, he and his partner, Officer Jean-Marie, were patrolling downtown Elizabeth in a marked police vehicle. While stopped at an intersection, Fidalgo “observed a vehicle cross [their] intersection at a high rate of speed.” Fidalgo was able to see the driver whom he described as a “[p]ossible Hispanic male with facial hair.”

Fidalgo and his partner pursued the vehicle and activated their lights after the vehicle “gained speed.” The vehicle “proceeded to pick up speed,” and “ran a red light on Elizabeth Avenue . . . .” Fidalgo estimated the vehicle’s speed to be “[r]oughly[] 50 miles [per] hour,” in a thirty-five mile speed zone.

After running the red light at Elizabeth Avenue, the vehicle “veered left . . . and appeared to have lost control and . . . then went into a ditch next to a utility pole right after the drawbridge on South First Street.”

Fidalgo and his partner exited their police car and “noticed that there was [a] smoke or fire condition coming from underneath the [disabled] vehicle.” There were three occupants in the vehicle, including the driver, and the officers “drew all the passengers to safety away from the vehicle.”

The individual in the driver’s seat was identified as defendant Jesus Colon. Fidalgo testified that defendant was the only occupant of the vehicle who had facial hair. When the officers first saw him, defendant was “[l]unged over the middle area between the driver’s seat and passenger’s seat[,]” with his legs “in the driver’s seat.”

Defendant’s vehicle sustained “[h]eavy front end damage and had fire damage done to it.” The fire department had to be called “to gain[] entry into the front door.”

Luis Benitez, who had been a passenger in defendant’s vehicle on the night in question, testified on behalf of defendant. Benitez has known defendant “since [they] were kids[,]” and described their relationship as being “like family . . . .”

On that night, Benitez was “walking down the block . . . a little intoxicated, because it was [his] birthday,” when he saw defendant “on the street and flagged him down.” Benitez asked defendant for a ride to a club. Benitez testified that defendant was not driving the vehicle; rather, a juvenile whose name he did not know was driving. Benitez stated that defendant “came out [of] the passenger’s side . . . .” Benitez entered the rear seat behind the driver and defendant re-entered the car on the passenger’s side.

As they drove on, Benitez stated that “the juvenile ate the light and the cops jumped on us.” The police chased the vehicle for “less than 15 minutes,” and then the car “crashed into a bridge and a light pole . . . .” Benitez testified that he injured his leg as a result of the crash.

During its deliberations, the jury asked for a readback of Officer Fidalgo’s testimony “with regard to the positioning of the three people.” The jury further requested a re-instruction on the definition of aggravated assault. Shortly after receiving that re-instruction, the jury rendered its verdict.

In his first argument on appeal, defendant contends that the prosecutor improperly vouched for the credibility of the State’s witness and implied to the jury that defendant’s witness, Benitez, had lied. Defendant refers us to the following statement in the prosecutor’s summation:

Think about this. Officer Fidalgo just doing his job. That is what he gets paid to do. No vested interest in this, not a family member, none of his family members were injured, none of his family members were charged with this.


Then you look at the witness, Mr. Benitez. He’s not really a disinterested third party. Oh, yeah, he’s close, extremely close to the defendant. I wonder.


At any rate, as I said earlier, I believe that Officer Fidalgo testified credibly and that each and every element of the two crimes charged, that you will hear from Judge Wertheimer, w[as] satisfied, and I ask that you, after hearing the charge, that you go back into the jury room and you find Jesus Colon guilty of the two charges.


At the outset, we note that this issue is raised as plain error as defense counsel raised no objection to the prosecutor’s summation. Therefore, we must determine whether these comments were “of such a nature as to have been clearly capable of producing an unjust result . . . .” R. 2:10-2. Based upon our review of the prosecutor’s entire summation, we discern neither of the improprieties claimed by defendant.

In the first two paragraphs quoted above, the prosecutor drew a distinction between Officer Fidalgo as a disinterested witness, as contrasted with Luis Benitez, who described his relationship with defendant as “like family.” In the third paragraph, the prosecutor briefly alluded to his belief “that Officer Fidalgo testified credibly[,]” and immediately proceeded to advise the jury that, in his view, “each and every element of the two crimes charged . . . w[as] satisfied . . . .”

Under these circumstance, we find defendant’s argument to be without merit. R. 2:11-3(e)(2).

Generally, if no objection was made to the improper remarks, the remarks will not be deemed prejudicial. Failure to make a timely objection indicates that defense counsel did not believe the remarks were prejudicial at the time they were made. Failure to object also deprives the court of the opportunity to take curative action.


[State v. Timmendequas, 161 N.J. 515, 576 (1999) (citations omitted).]


We acknowledge the “long-standing rule” that it is improper for the prosecutor to inform the jury of his personal opinion of a witness’s credibility. State v. Wakefield, 190 N.J. 397, 440 (2007). In evaluating “‘the severity of the misconduct and its prejudicial effect on the defendant’s right to a fair trial[,]'” we will not deem such prosecutorial misconduct to be grounds for reversal of a criminal conviction “‘unless the conduct was so egregious as to deprive the defendant of a fair trial.'” Id. at 437 (citations omitted).

The trial judge charged the jury immediately following the prosecutor’s summation. Very early in that charge, the judge instructed the jury:

You, and you alone, are the exclusive judges of the evidence, of the weight of the evidence and . . . what the facts are in this case. Regardless of what [c]ounsel said . . . recalling the facts, it’s your recollection of the facts that must guide you in the final analysis as . . . the judges of the facts.


Under the circumstance, we conclude that the prosecutor’s brief statements that he “believed[d] Officer Fidalgo testified credibly[,]” and that he “wonder[ed]” about Benitez being “extremely close to the defendant[,]” did not rise to the level of “egregious” conduct sufficient to warrant reversal.

We next consider defendant’s contention that the trial court erred in its charge to the jury on second-degree eluding. Because defendant did not object to this jury instruction at trial, we once again consider his claim under the plain error standard. R. 2:10-2. Under that standard, “[a] reviewing court may reverse on the basis of unchallenged error only if it finds plain error clearly capable of producing an unjust result.” State v. Afanador, 151 N.J. 41, 54 (1997).

Pursuant to N.J.S.A. 2C:29-2(b):

Any person, while operating a motor vehicle on any street or highway in this State . . ., who knowingly flees or attempts to elude any police or law enforcement officer after having received any signal from such officer to bring the vehicle . . . to a full stop commits a crime of the third degree; except that, a person is guilty of a crime of the second degree if the flight or attempt to elude creates a risk of death or injury of any person. For purposes of this subsection, there shall be a permissive inference that the flight or attempt to elude creates a risk of death or injury to any person if the person’s conduct involves a violation of chapter 4 of Title 39 . . . .


The trial judge essentially followed the model jury charge for second-degree eluding. Model Jury Charge (Criminal), “Eluding an Officer” (2004). In his initial jury instruction, the judge charged the jury in accordance with the statutory language elevating the offense to second degree if “the flight or attempt to elude created a risk of death or injury to a person.” The judge made no mention of motor vehicle violations at this point.

Following a side bar discussion at the conclusion of the jury charge, the judge delivered the following additional instruction:

I, apparently, omitted a part of the charge on eluding. I want to read it to you now.


You may infer a risk of death or injury to any person if a defendant’s conduct in fleeing or attempting to elude the officer involved a violation of motor vehicle laws of the State, and it’s alleged this defendant’s conduct involved speeding, running a red light, etc., etc.


Defense counsel accepted this supplemental instruction as “[f]ine.”

We concur with defendant that the trial judge’s failure to charge the elements of the applicable motor vehicle statutes was in error. Under the circumstances of this case, however, we deem such error to be harmless. The evidence clearly established that defendant “created a risk of death or injury” by crashing his vehicle into a utility pole with such force that it sustained “[h]eavy front end damage and . . . fire damage . . . .” The fire department had to be called to open the front door. Officer Fidalgo observed defendant “[l]unged over the middle area between the driver’s seat and passenger’s seat[,]” with his legs “in the driver’s seat.” In addition, Benitez testified that he suffered a leg injury as a result of the crash.

On this record, we consider defendant’s reliance upon State v. Dorko, 298 N.J. Super. 54 (App. Div.), certif. denied, 150 N.J. 28 (1997), to be misplaced. In that case, the defendant’s act of eluding consisted solely of motor vehicle violations such as speeding and running through stop signs and a red light; in addition to eluding, the defendant was charged with reckless driving. Id. at 56.

By contrast here, defendant engaged not only in speeding and running a red light, but in much more serious conduct that caused his vehicle to crash, with resultant injuries to at least one passenger. It is significant that these same facts gave rise to a related charge of second-degree aggravated assault in count two of the indictment, as contrasted with the related reckless driving charge in Dorko.

Applying, as we must, the plain error standard to this argument, we conclude that defendant has failed to demonstrate that the claimed error was “sufficient to raise a reasonable doubt as to whether [it] led the jury to a result it otherwise might not have reached.” State v. Macon, 57 N.J. 325, 336 (1971).




April 14, 2009

Barnegat, NJ man faces DWI & Assault charges after crashing into police car

William Ferri of Barnegat allegedly sideswiped a police car and then continued driving.  Seconds later, Ferri was pulled over and arrested.  The officer, who was sitting in his police car at  the time was treated for pain and stiffness in his back and neck in the hospital and later released.  In addition to assault by auto and DWI, he was charged with reckless driving, failing to maintain lane of travel, leaving the scene of an accident and failure to report an accident.  Ferri was lodged in the Ocean County Jail.

Of course, the assault by auto charge will be the  toughest charge for his attorney to deal with as it is a felony offense.  However, his age may help him significantly.  Story is here.