NJ – Unconstitutional Gun Laws imprison a man for LAWFULLY owning Guns.

February 1, 2011

 

New Jersey should be sued for Unconstitutional laws that imprison LAWFUL citizens.

 

 

Man Sentenced to Seven Years in Prison for Lawfully-owned Guns

 

WRITTEN BY PATRICK KREY
MONDAY, 31 JANUARY 2011 00:00

 

 

 

 

The Philadelphia Daily News reported on a disturbing story that should horrify every gun owner in this nation. Brian Aitken, a 25-year-old successful media consultant who was going through a separation with his wife, was in the process of selling his home in Colorado and moving to a suburban New Jersey apartment to be closer to his two-year-old son when he was arrested in an odd series of events.

On January 2, 2009, Brian was visiting his parents in Mount Laurel while taking a break from moving to nearby Hoboken. After Brian’s former wife canceled his scheduled visit with his son, he became distraught and said something to the effect of “life’s not worth living anymore” to his mother and drove away. His mother, a trained social worker, became worried about a possible suicide risk and called 9-1-1 but hung up after having second thoughts. Law enforcement traced the call and soon arrived at the scene. The police called Brian, who was on his way to his new residence in Hoboken, and asked him to return to his parents’ home because they were worried. When he returned, the cops searched his vehicle and found two handguns, both locked and unloaded as New Jersey law requires, inside the trunk, in a box stuffed into a duffel bag with clothes. Brian was arrested and, according to his attorney, the subsequent trial and conviction were the “perfect storm of injustice.”

The guns were lawfully purchased by Aitken when he was a Colorado resident. He had passed an FBI background check to buy the guns from a Bass Pro shop in Denver, and he had even contacted New Jersey State Police to discuss the proper way to transport them into New Jersey. In Colorado, all Brian needed was a background check to own the guns, but in New Jersey, which has some of the strictest laws in the nation, a purchaser’s permit is required to own the guns and another carry permit is required to transport them in his car. Aitken’s attorney, Evan Nappen, who specializes in gun laws, told the news that Brian had a legal exemption to have the handguns in his car because he was moving from his parents’ home to a residence in Hoboken.

New Jersey allows exemptions for gun owners to transport weapons if the move is for hunting purposes or if the person is relocating. Shockingly, the Superior Court judge who heard Brian’s case refused to allow this statute exemption to be read to the jury. The Burlington County Prosecutor’s Office and the Superior Court judge reasoned that Aitken and his legal team tried to raise the issue during closing arguments, but that it wasn’t presented during the trial and therefore couldn’t be considered by the jury. Nappen argued that the groundwork for the defense was laid earlier in the trial. During the trial, Aitken’s mother testified that her son was moving things out, and his friend in Hoboken testified he was moving things in. A Mount Laurel officer testified that he saw boxes of dishes and clothes in the Honda Civic on the day of the arrest.

The exemption statute, according to the prosecutor’s office, specifies that legal guns can be transported “while moving.” Despite the testimony about his moving to Hoboken, a spokesman for the prosecutor said the evidence suggested that Aitken had moved months earlier, from Colorado to Mount Laurel. After Nappen raised the moving-exemption issue, the jury even asked the judge for the exemption statute several times, and the judge refused to hand it over to them.

After two and half days of deliberation, the jury returned a guilty verdict and Aitken was convicted and sentenced to seven years in prison!

His father was shocked that something like this could happen in America. “For quite some time I was pretty confident as soon as intelligent people with logical minds took a look at what happened they might slap him with a fine or something…. When the prosecutor came down with an indictment, I was dumbfounded…. This is the most normal, everyday, All-American regular kid, and for this to happen to him is a disgrace…. It’s a disgrace of society.”

Thankfully the story didn’t end there. Nappen immediately appealed the decision and the family took to grass-roots methods to raise awareness about their son. They garnered an amazing amount of support using social media with a “Free Brian Aitken” Facebook page, which was quickly embraced by gun-rights advocates. Thousands of gun owners across the nation rallied to the cause and more than 15,000 joined the Facebook group. The family also asked New Jersey Governor Chris Christie for clemency, and ABC News reported that Governor Christie gave them their wish, signing the order in December that commuted Brian’s sentence to time served.

Aitken’s father was grateful. “I am shell shocked…. The commutation is purely the governor saying how ridiculous this sentence is and it ends now.”

Nappen agreed that “this wasn’t just about gun rights, this was about a fair trial. And this really was a gross injustice.” Aitken didn’t receive a full pardon, though, because his attorney actually didn’t ask Christie for a full pardon. Nappen explained to Reason’s Radley Balko that a pardon would have been premature while the conviction is still being appealed. A pardon would have been a much more difficult petition to win. Nappen’s primary goal was to get Aitken out of prison and home for the holidays. Now Nappen will work to get the conviction overturned on appeal, which will hopefully have the dual effect of striking down or modifying some of New Jersey’s gun laws to prevent similar travesties of justice in the future. Nappen feels that Aitken’s chances of having the conviction overturned are good, but even if he is not successful, they can always go back and ask Christie to clear his record once he has exhausted his appeals. Nappen’s continuing legal appeal of the conviction could take six to nine months.

Even though this story had a happy ending, it should be a wake-up call to all gun owners how easy it is for local governments to intrude on a citizen’s God-given right to self-defense. Just imagine how this story would have turned out had Aitken’s family not been able to obtain the legal representation they had or utilize social media like they did.

http://thenewamerican.com/index.php/usnews/crime/6089-man-sentenced-to-seven-years-in-prison-for-lawfully-owned-guns


California – Los Angeles – Corruption without restraint.

September 23, 2010

These people are a ring of thieves.

How is it that they were not discovered sooner?

Looks like there are probably others who have been covering up for them and it’s probably more extensive than just this small band of thieves.

Prosecutors detail steps Bell leaders allegedly took to hide high salaries:

Court documents accuse former City Administrator Robert Rizzo of ordering an employee to draft false contracts and other records to conceal how much he and council members made

By Jack Leonard, Los Angeles Times

September 23, 2010

Los Angeles County prosecutors, in records obtained Wednesday by The Times, lay out in the most detail yet the lengths to which they allege former Bell City Administrator Robert Rizzo went to hide extravagant salaries for himself and other city officials.

The court documents accuse Rizzo of directing an employee to draft false contracts and other records in September 2008 that concealed how much he and council members made. Then a few months ago, under growing scrutiny of his salary, the city manager asked a subordinate to obtain Mayor Oscar Hernandez’s signature on some of those 2008 contracts, the court filing says. The subordinate pointed out that another council member had been the mayor in 2008.

“Rizzo directed the subordinate to obtain Oscar Hernandez’s signature anyway because Hernandez would be willing to sign,” the documents say. “The subordinate did so.”

The allegations were made in court documents asking a judge to prevent Rizzo and seven other current and former city leaders charged this week from using money improperly taken from Bell to bail themselves out of jail.

Former and current Bell officials, from left, Robert Rizzo, Angela Spaccia, Victor Bello and Oscar Hernandez appear in Superior Court on Wednesday. Documents outline the steps they allegedly took to conceal high pay. (Al Seib / Los Angeles Times / September 22, 2010)

Former and current Bell officials, from left, Robert Rizzo, Angela Spaccia, Victor Bello and Oscar Hernandez appear in Superior Court on Wednesday. Documents outline the steps they allegedly took to conceal high pay. (Al Seib / Los Angeles Times / September 22, 2010)

Rizzo’s attorney, James W. Spertus, did not return a call seeking comment on the allegations. But he has repeatedly said that his client is innocent.

The prosecution documents allege that Rizzo used the false 2008 contracts in response to questions about his salary. He allegedly told one citizen who asked whether he was really making $400,000, “If I can make that kind of money, I wouldn’t be working here.”

Prosecutors accused Rizzo of continuing to use the false contracts in recent months amid growing scrutiny of his salary by the district attorney’s office and others.

Sometime after June, one of the false 2008 contracts was given to the city attorney following requests for records of Rizzo’s pay. The contract listed Rizzo’s salary as $221,460. In reality, Rizzo was on course to make more than $1.5 million in salary and benefits this year.

As recently as last week, Rizzo pointed to the contracts in response to questions from the state attorney general’s office and falsely claimed they were genuine and were approved by the City Council, the court documents allege.

“By continuing to maintain the fiction that the documents purporting to be September 2008 contracts are genuine, Mr. Rizzo continues to retain public funds feloniously obtained,” Deputy Dist. Atty. Max Huntsman wrote in one of the court documents.

As The Times reported earlier this month, prosecutors said that the contracts were never approved by the council. In addition, Huntsman alleged that Assistant City Administrator Angela Spaccia’s computer was used in 2005 to generate a contract that gave her large raises without council approval.

“A substantial portion of her compensation from the City of Bell appears to have been obtained feloniously,” Hunstman wrote.

Spaccia was charged this week with misappropriating public funds, but she was not charged in connection with the alleged 2005 contract.

The court documents also say Rizzo directed an employee to draft a memo in 2008 that listed council member pay as about $8,000 a year. In reality, council members were making far more — nearly $100,000 earlier this year.

Rizzo, 56, is charged with 53 felony counts of misappropriation of public funds, falsification of public documents and conflicts of interest. If convicted, he faces up to 58 years in state prison.

The other Bell defendants are charged with misappropriating public funds. All eight are expected to enter pleas Oct. 21.

Wearing brown jail scrubs and shackled to a waist chain, Rizzo appeared in court Wednesday alongside the seven other defendants. He rocked gently back and forth in his chair as his attorney argued that his bail should be reduced.

“He has been here for 30 years,” Spertus said in court. “There is nowhere to run…. Everybody knows his face.”

Superior Court Judge Michael E. Pastor reduced Rizzo’s bail from $3.2 million to $2 million, but declined to significantly change the bail amounts for the other defendants.

“The charged offenses are, in my opinion, extremely serious,” Pastor said.

Councilwoman Teresa Jacobo was released on $260,000 bail, and Councilman Luis Artiga was released on $120,000 bail. Former Councilman George Cole was expected to be released late Wednesday. Rizzo, Spaccia, Hernandez and Councilman George Mirabal and former Councilman Victor Bello remained behind bars late Wednesday.

http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-bell-arraign-20100923,0,4504683.story

 Southern Calfornia city manager who is facing 53 counts related to alleged corruption has a local connection -- he owns a local horse ranch and has raced his thoroughbreds at Emerald Downs.

Southern Calfornia city manager who is facing 53 counts related to alleged corruption has a local connection -- he owns a local horse ranch and has raced his thoroughbreds at Emerald Downs.

Bell, Calif., city manager owns Auburn horse ranch:

AUBURN, Wash.—The Bell, Calif., city manager charged with misappropriating public funds owns a horse ranch at Auburn and raced thoroughbreds at the Emerald Downs track in the Seattle suburb.

The Los Angeles Times reported Robert Rizzo bought the 10-acre ranch in 2004 for nearly $1 million and has owned dozens of race horses.

Auburn neighbors say Rizzo has been a good neighbor, and fellow horse owners and trainers at Emerald Downs were shocked and surprised by the allegations in California.

http://www.mercurynews.com/breaking-news/ci_16152770?nclick_check=1

<via http://www.judicialwatch.org/blog/2010/sep/corruption-scandal-wipes-out-citys-govt>

Bail for each is:

  • $3.2 million for Rizzo, 56
  • $377,500 for Spaccia, 52
  • $285,000 for Hernandez, 63
  • $260,000 for Jacobo, 52
  • $260,000 for Mirabal, 60
  • $190,000 for Bello, 51
  • $145,000 for Artiga, 49
  • $130,000 for Cole, 60

http://da.co.la.ca.us/mr/092110a.htm


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