- Attorney General Paula T. Dow and Criminal
Justice Director Stephen J. Taylor announced
that a state prison inmate was sentenced
to an additional seven years in prison yesterday
for organizing a smuggling scheme that used
a correction officer to bring pre-paid cell
phones and narcotics into Northern State
Prison in Newark.
inmate’s brother was also in court
yesterday in Middlesex County, pleading
guilty to assisting in the scheme by receiving
funds wired by inmates, which he gave to
the correction officer for the contraband
items. The charges stem from Operation Empire,
a joint investigation by the New Jersey
State Police, Department of Corrections
and Division of Criminal Justice.
to Director Taylor, Angel Vasquez, 54, a
former inmate at Northern State Prison in
Newark who now is in South Woods State Prison,
was sentenced yesterday by Superior Court
Judge Mathias E. Rodriguez to seven years
in state prison, which he must serve consecutively
to his current sentence. Vasquez is serving
a manslaughter sentence of 50 years, including
20 years of parole ineligibility, which
began in 1994.
pleaded guilty on June 10 to a charge of
second-degree racketeering, admitting that
he organized a scheme in Northern State
Prison in which he enlisted a former senior
correction officer, Luis S. Roman, to smuggle
heroin and wireless telephones into the
prison for Vasquez to sell to other inmates.
brother, Justiniano Vasquez, 61, of the
Bronx, N.Y., pleaded guilty yesterday before
Judge Rodriquez to a charge of second-degree
racketeering. He admitted that, at the direction
of his brother Angel, he cashed checks that
were wired to him by inmates. He admitted
that he provided the cash from the checks
to Roman for the purchase of cell phones
and narcotics that Roman smuggled into Northern
State Prison. The state will recommend that
Justiniano Vasquez be sentenced to five
to seven years in state prison. He is scheduled
to be sentenced on Sept. 26.
Attorney General Cassandra Serentino handled
the sentencing and took the guilty plea
for the Division of Criminal Justice Gangs
& Organized Crime Bureau.
April 18, Roman, 47, of Avenel, pleaded
guilty to racketeering and official misconduct
before Judge Rodriguez. The state will recommend
that Roman be sentenced to 14 years in state
prison, including five years of parole ineligibility.
He is scheduled for sentencing on Oct. 3.
Sept. 15, 2010, the Division of Criminal
Justice obtained a state grand jury indictment
charging the Vasquez brothers, Roman and
16 other defendants. Separate indictments
obtained that month charged 16 inmates who
pleading guilty, Roman admitted that he
worked with a network of inmates who solicited
customers and distributed contraband that
he smuggled into the prison. Roman smuggled
contraband into the prison several times
a week, including pre-paid cell phones,
cocaine, heroin, and marijuana, hiding the
items in his protective vest and boots.
The inmates had family members or friends
outside the prison who allegedly acted as
accomplices by buying phones and drugs and
packaging them for delivery to Roman. The
investigation revealed that inmates paid
for the items by having money wired to Roman’s
wife or another accomplice on the outside.
Department of Corrections Special Investigations
Division began looking into the possibility
of a correction officer or other prison
worker smuggling contraband into Northern
State Prison after numerous wireless phones
of the same makes and models were confiscated
joint investigation by the State Police
and the Department of Corrections began
in July 2009. Roman’s smuggling continued
from at least August 2007 to Nov. 14, 2009,
when he was arrested with his wife. Ann
Marie Roman, 37, of Keasbey, who now is
divorced from Luis Roman, pleaded guilty
on Sept. 14, 2010 before Superior Court
Judge Frederick P. DeVesa to second-degree
conspiracy to commit bribery. She admitted
that, at her husband’s direction,
she received thousands of dollars through
Western Union and Money Gram as payment
for smuggled items.
Vasquez was one of two trusted inmates at
Northern State Prison who dealt directly
with Roman in the smuggling scheme. Charges
are pending against the second alleged inmate
organizer or middle man, Willie Wade, 47.
Wade and Angel Vasquez allegedly employed
numerous other inmates as distributors to
canvass the prison for customers.
The investigation was led by Detective Timothy
Hackett and Detective Sgt. Dennis Buoye
of the New Jersey State Police Street Gang
North Unit, and Principal Investigator Scott
Russo, Senior Investigator Michael Kubik
and Senior Investigator Omar Howard of the
Department of Corrections Special Investigations
Division. Supervising Deputy Attorney General
Andrew M. Butchko and Deputy Attorneys General
Cassandra Serentino, Daniel Bornstein and
Julia S. Glass presented the case to the
state grand jury for the Division of Criminal
Justice Gangs & Organized Crime Bureau.
Deputy Attorney General J. Michael Wicke
also assisted in the case.