|TRENTON – Acting Attorney General John J. Hoffman announced that a former senior state correction officer from Newark was sentenced to prison today for trafficking 22 kilograms of cocaine from Texas to New Jersey.
Eugene W. Braswell, 35, of Newark, a former senior state correction officer who worked at Northern State Prison, was sentenced to 15 years in state prison, including five years of parole ineligibility, by Superior Court Judge Ann R. Bartlett in Warren County. Braswell pleaded guilty on March 15, 2011 to first-degree cocaine trafficking and second-degree official misconduct before Superior Court Judge John J. Coyle Jr. He forfeited his job as a senior correction officer and his state pension, and he is permanently barred from public employment. The state’s plea agreement with Braswell called for a 15-year sentence with nine years of parole ineligibility, but the judge reduced the period of parole ineligibility to five years over the state’s objection.
Braswell and five other men were charged in an Oct. 15, 2009 indictment obtained stemming from an investigation by the New Jersey State Police and the Division of Criminal Justice. All of the defendants pleaded guilty and were sentenced to state prison.
Deputy Attorney General Brandy Malfitano handled the sentencing for the Division of Criminal Justice Gangs & Organized Crime Bureau.
“After Braswell killed another man in a shootout, the State Police and the Division of Criminal Justice uncovered that he was trafficking major quantities of cocaine into New Jersey,” said Acting Attorney General Hoffman. “We’ve put this corrupt correction officer on the right side of the cell bars.”
“Braswell and his co-defendants were major interstate suppliers of cocaine, and their activities fueled the type of gun violence that inevitably attends drug dealing, as evidenced by Braswell’s own involvement in a fatal shooting in Newark,” said Director Elie Honig of the Division of Criminal Justice. “By dismantling drug rings like this one, we are making the people of New Jersey safer.”
“Violence associated with drug dealing, and the devastating impacts of addiction that plague our communities, are the very things that Braswell swore to combat when he became a member of New Jersey’s law enforcement community,” said Colonel Rick Fuentes, Superintendent of the New Jersey State Police. “I commend the members of our Official Corruption Unit, the Division of Criminal Justice Gangs and Organized Crime Bureau, and the Office of the Attorney General for the outstanding investigation and prosecution of this case.”
In pleading guilty, Braswell admitted that he and co-defendant Delrese Hardy, 40, of East Orange, arranged to have two other men transport 22 kilograms of cocaine to New Jersey from Houston, Texas. Hardy pleaded guilty to first-degree possession of cocaine with intent to distribute. The two men who transported the cocaine, Walter S. Braden, 36, of East Orange, and Shuerod Walton, 42, of East Orange, pleaded guilty to second-degree conspiracy to distribute cocaine. Two additional members of the drug trafficking ring, Joseph L. Jones, 43, of Newark, and Antwan K. Jones, 42, of Sewaren, also pleaded guilty to second-degree conspiracy to distribute cocaine.
On July 6, 2011, Hardy was sentenced by Judge Coyle to 15 years in state prison, including seven years of parole ineligibility. Braswell’s four other co-defendants were each sentenced that same day to seven years in state prison, with periods of parole ineligibility of one to three years.
The six defendants were arrested in July 2008. The investigation revealed that Braswell and Hardy supervised the other defendants in the purchase and inter-state transportation of large quantities of cocaine from sources in Texas and elsewhere outside New Jersey. The cocaine was sold and distributed in northern New Jersey. Braswell was suspended without pay from his job with the Department of Corrections after his arrest. He forfeited his employment upon pleading guilty.
The investigation into drug trafficking began after Braswell was involved in a shooting incident in August 2007 outside his Newark home in which he shot and killed Waliford Williams, 34. According to an investigation by the Attorney General’s Shooting Response Team, Williams shot at Braswell with a 9 mm semi-automatic handgun, striking Braswell in the left ankle. Braswell returned fire with his own .40-caliber handgun, striking Williams twice, including once in the neck. Williams died at the scene.
The drug investigation led to the arrest of Walton and Braden on July 12, 2008 following a motor vehicle stop in Pohatcong Township, Warren County. Detectives had a warrant to search the 2000 Dodge Ram Van in which the men were traveling. They seized approximately 22 kilograms of cocaine which were wrapped in heat-sealed plastic bags and hidden in the roof panels of the vehicle. The men were returning from Houston, Texas, with the drugs.
The State Police and the Division of Criminal Justice arrested the other four defendants on July 24, 2008. Search warrants were executed at Braswell’s home in Newark and Hardy’s home in East Orange. A 2002 Cadillac Escalade and 2003 Chevrolet Van owned by Braswell also were seized. Roughly 1 ½ kilograms of cocaine, $13,878 in cash and drug packaging materials were recovered in Hardy’s home. Cash totaling $17,020 and equipment and materials for drug packaging were found in Braswell’s home. A Smith & Wesson .357 revolver was found in a hidden compartment in the Escalade.
The investigation was conducted by Lt. Geoffrey Forker and members of the New Jersey State Police Official Corruption Unit, working jointly with members of the Division of Criminal Justice Gangs & Organized Crime Bureau, North Squad, supervised by former Supervising Deputy Attorney General Mark Eliades and Deputy Attorney General Jeffrey Manis, who prosecuted the defendants.