|TRENTON – Acting Attorney General John J. Hoffman announced that an Atlantic County couple has pleaded guilty to drug and weapons charges stemming from an investigation by the Atlantic City Violent Crime Task Force that resulted in the seizure of a large quantity of cocaine and an assault weapon from their home in January 2013.
Donald Capriotti, aka Donald Gardner, 40, of Egg Harbor Township, pleaded guilty yesterday before Superior Court Judge Michael A. Donio in Atlantic County to first-degree possession of cocaine with intent to distribute and possession of an assault firearm during the commission of a narcotics offense. Those charges were contained in a June 2013 state grand jury indictment. He also pleaded guilty to third-degree charges of eluding police and drug possession, which were contained in an Atlantic County grand jury indictment. The state will recommend that he be sentenced to 18 years in state prison, including 10 years of parole ineligibility, on the first-degree narcotics charge. He faces a concurrent sentence of five years with three years of parole ineligibility on the gun charge, and concurrent four-year prison sentences on each of the county charges.
Capriotti’s wife, Chinyere Gardner, 33, of Egg Harbor Township, also pleaded guilty yesterday before Judge Donio to first-degree possession of cocaine with intent to distribute. The state will recommend that she be sentenced to seven years in state prison. Judge Donio scheduled sentencing for both defendants for May 2.
Deputy Attorney General James Ruberton of the Division of Criminal Justice and Assistant Prosecutor Erik Bergman of the Atlantic County Prosecutor’s Office prosecuted the case and took the guilty pleas. Detective Jason Dorn of the Atlantic County Prosecutor’s Office conducted the investigation.
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 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 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 Capriotti has a prior aggravated manslaughter conviction, investigators obtained a “no knock” search warrant and forced entry into the residence. Both defendants were home, and Capriotti 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.