|TRENTON – Acting Attorney General John J. Hoffman announced that a Union County man was indicted today on charges that he illegally trafficked six guns, including an assault weapon with hollow-point bullets, during an undercover investigation by the New Jersey State Police. Most of the gun sales occurred at a supermarket in Newark.
The Division of Criminal Justice Gangs & Organized Crime Bureau obtained a state grand jury indictment charging Kareem Tillery, 28, of Union Township, with unlawful possession of an assault firearm (2nd degree), unlawful possession of a handgun (2nd degree), unlawful possession of a shotgun (3rd degree), unlawful disposition of an assault firearm (3rd degree), unlawful disposition of a firearm (4th degree), unlawful disposition of a prohibited large-capacity magazine (4th degree), possession of illegal hollow-point bullets (4th degree), and unlawful possession of a prohibited large-capacity magazine.
The second-degree weapons charges against Tillery carry a sentence of five to 10 years in state prison, including a mandatory minimum term of three years without parole under the Graves Act. The Graves Act was amended to increase the mandatory minimum to 3 ½ years without parole for gun offenses occurring after August 2013, but the alleged gun sales in this case occurred before that increase. Tillery is being prosecuted under Acting Attorney General Hoffman’s Targeted Anti-Gun (TAG) initiative, which prohibits prosecutors in Essex and Mercer counties from offering any plea deal less than the mandatory minimum term of 3 ½ years without parole – or three years in cases such as this one that predate the Graves Act enhancement. It has been commonplace for prosecutors to plead out gun possession cases for a reduced sentence of one year without parole, but Hoffman has prohibited such plea deals as part of highly successful efforts targeting gun violence, which also have involved stepped-up police operations in Newark and Trenton, led by the State Police.
“By going after gang members and repeat offenders who carry guns, as well as the weapons traffickers who supply those guns, we’re substantially reducing gun violence in Newark and Trenton,” said Acting Attorney General Hoffman. “We’re committed to these efforts, which are making the targeted areas safer for law-abiding residents.”
“We’re putting gun-toting criminals on notice that if they don’t leave their guns at home, we have a new home for them in prison,” said Director Elie Honig of the Division of Criminal Justice.
“Our undercover detectives bought an assault weapon, a shotgun, and two handguns at a Newark Supermarket where most families go to buy bread, eggs, and milk,” said Colonel Rick Fuentes, Superintendent of the New Jersey State Police. “These sales are not so underground when they are occurring at local venues.”
The charges against Tillery are the result of an undercover investigation by the New Jersey State Police Weapons Trafficking North Unit. Between Feb. 12 and April 24, 2013, Tillery allegedly sold the following six guns to an undercover operative working with the State Police:
- an Intratec .22-caliber assault weapon with a large-capacity magazine and numerous hollow-point bullets,
- a .25-caliber pistol,
- a 9mm pistol,
- a Mossberg pump 12-gauge shotgun,
- a .38-caliber revolver, and
- a .44-caliber revolver with hollow-point bullets.
Tillery allegedly sold the assault weapon, the shotgun and two of the handguns at a supermarket that he frequented on Stuyvesant Avenue in Newark. He allegedly sold the other two handguns at his home in Union Township.
Deputy Attorney General Shontae D. Gray presented the indictment to the state grand jury for the Division of Criminal Justice Gangs & Organized Crime Bureau.
The indictment is merely an accusation and the defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty.
The indictment was handed up to Superior Court Judge Mary C. Jacobson in Mercer County, who assigned the case to Essex County, where the defendant will be ordered to appear at a later date to be arraigned on the charges.