|TRENTON – Acting Attorney General John J. Hoffman announced that a 23-count indictment was returned today charging an Atlantic County couple with possessing cocaine, heroin and marijuana, which they intended to distribute, as well as an assault weapon and a sawed-off shotgun. The husband and wife were charged in an investigation by the Atlantic City Violent Crime Task Force.
Donald Gardner, aka Donald Capriotti, 39, and his wife Chinyere Gardner, 33, both of Egg Harbor Township, were indicted by an Atlantic County grand jury on various drug charges, including first-degree possession of cocaine with intent to distribute and third-degree counts of possession of heroin and marijuana with intent to distribute. They are also charged with second-degree weapons offenses, including unlawful possession of an assault firearm, multiple counts of unlawful possession of firearms while committing drug offenses, and two counts each of unlawful possession of a firearm as a convicted felon. Both defendants have prior manslaughter convictions in New Jersey. Capriotti is also charged with third-degree resisting arrest by force and fourth-degree aggravated assault on a police officer.
Members of the Atlantic City Violent Crime Task Force executed a search warrant on Jan. 25, 2013, at the couple’s residence on Robin Road in Egg Harbor Township as a result of an ongoing drug investigation. Inside the home, officers allegedly found an Intratec TEC 9 assault firearm, loaded with a large-capacity magazine housing 13 rounds of ammunition, and a loaded sawed-off shotgun with the serial number defaced. Investigators allegedly found more than six ounces of cocaine, 2.6 ounces of marijuana, and just under one-half ounce of heroin. The cocaine and heroin were packaged in small bags for individual sale. Digital scales and additional packaging materials were also seized.
Because of Capriotti’s prior aggravated manslaughter conviction, investigators obtained a “no knock” search warrant and forced entry into the residence. Both defendants were home, and Capriotti allegedly resisted arrest, running toward an area of the house where the shotgun was found. The shotgun had both the barrel and the wood stock shortened so it could fit in the sleeve of a sweatshirt or jacket.
Deputy Attorney General James Ruberton of the Division of Criminal Justice and Assistant Prosecutor Erik Bergman of the Atlantic County Prosecutor’s Office supervised the investigation, and Bergman presented the case to the Atlantic County grand jury. Detective Jason Dorn of the Atlantic County Prosecutor’s Office conducted the investigation.
First-degree charges carry a sentence of 10 to 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $200,000, while second-degree charges carry a sentence of five to 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $150,000. The charge of possessing a gun as a convicted felon carries a mandatory five years of parole ineligibility. The indictment is merely an accusation and the defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty.