Camden County Cops: Pepper Sprayed Fugitive Spat at Us

Police in Camden County got more than they bargained for when they arrested 35-year-old Jason M. Porten early on the morning of Monday, April 20 – not the least of which was a trip for two officers to the local hospital.

At around 1:40 Monday morning, police in Gloucester Township observed a suspicious 2004

New Jersey Mugshot - Bail Bonds Services NJ

Jason M. Porten in a 2010 mugshot (via bustedmugshots.com)

Ford mini-van exiting the parking lot of a closed business. Officers tried to pull the vehicle over, but the driver, Mr. Porten, fled from police.

After leading the officers on a brief chase, Porten abandoned his van at the bottom of a dead-end street on Hamilton Avenue in Blackwood. He then took off on foot into some nearby woods.

As if that wasn’t brazen enough, once police caught up with Porten in the wooded area, he began to physically resist and fight with the officers, according to their report. After being subdued with pepper spray and cuffed, Porten still continued to buck against the inevitable, allegedly spitting at police.

Porten was ultimately taken in and charged with eluding, resisting arrest, obstruction of justice, and five counts of aggravated assault on police – a second degree crime that can land up to ten years and fines of $150,000 per conviction.

Police have also said that their investigation into the incident is ongoing, due to “recovered items believed to be potentially connected to criminal activity by the accused.”

Two of the officers were allegedly hurt during the scuffle, and were released after a brief treatment at a local hospital. The exact nature of their injuries was not made public.

Porten, too, made a trip to the hospital, but only to be medically cleared for incarceration. As of this writing, Porten is in Camden County Jail in default of $50,000 bail.

Police ask anyone with information regarding the case call their anonymous tip line at 856-842-5560.

If you’re ever in a stick situation with the law in the Camden County area, make your first call to Chance Bail Bonds – a fast, professional bail bonds service that works 24 hours a day to get you free and on with your life. (877) 647-5731

Freehold, NJ Man Charged with Murder in Restaurant Altercation Death

A Freehold, NJ man was arrested for the shooting death of a man in Jackson last Friday.

Freehold NJ Bail Bonds

Hector Calderon

The victim, 34-year-old Peyman Sanandaji was shot multiple times in the defunct Casanova Restorante on South New Prospect Road on Thursday night. Hours later, the alleged killed, Hector Calderon, 47, was arrested by police in connection to the murder.

Sanandaji’s body was discovered by authorities late Thursday night after receiving a report about an injured person.

It’s unclear what clues led investigators to Calderon, but he was arrested at his Freehold home without incident on Friday at around noon.

Calderon is being charged with murder, possession of a weapon, and possession of a weapon for unlawful purpose.

The shooting was the first for several years in the town of Jackson, and resulted in an outpouring of shock and grief from the community.

“This is something that doesn’t happen in Jackson,” said Jackson Mayor Michael Reina. “And it kind of took everybody by surprise.”

“I believe this is an isolated incident involving these acquaintances,” Police Chief Matthew Kunz said. “And it certainly is not indicative of any criminal trend in the area that would suggest that the area is any less safe.”

The exact circumstances of the murder, however, are unclear. The Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office said only that the two men were acquaintances, who met for some kind of meeting in the restaurant.

“What they were meeting about, I don’t know,” said Della Fave, spokesman for the prosecutor’s office.

NJ.com commenters “Jorge Polischuk” and “Xtremetude” claimed in comments beneath a story on the arrest that they knew Calderon, and that the murder was “out of character for him.”

It’s unknown at this time if Calderon has secured the services of an attorney. He’s being held on $1 million bail at the Ocean County Jail.

If you need bail bonds services in Freehold, NJ or Ocean County, call Chance BailBonds for fast, professional service.

Newark News: DMX Allegedly Robbed Someone on Easter

Newark police are investigating a claim by a 21-year-old man who reported that rapper DMX and his entourage robbed him at gunpoint early on Easter morning.

The alleged victim, who has not been identified, says that the rapper and an entourage of about 15 people arrived in four Cadillac Escalades at an Exxon gas

station on Route 21 at around 12:30 a.m. The victim claims that when he and his friend were walking back to the car from the gas station, the entourage approached him. From here, the two parties had a brief conversation about rap music before an entourage member flashed a pistol and demanded the victim’s money.

According to the man, he had just cashed a paycheck and had $3,200 in his pocket at the time. When he pulled it out, DMX “snatched the money out of his hand” and escaped in his caravan of black Escalades. The victim claims that the whole

Newark Bail Bonds

DMX

incident was caught on camera, and that he and his friend were able to get one of the license plate numbers. Police have yet to confirm or deny whether the plate number has been traced to DMX or anyone associated with him.

“The allegations are unequivocally and utterly false,” said Murray Richman, DMX’s attorney, in a statement. “Any videotape would be dispositive.”

DMX, 44 years old, was in town to headline a concert at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center in Newark.

Newark police spokesman Sgt. Ronald Glover says that the investigation is ongoing, and no criminal charges have been filed, nor arrests made.

DMX is no stranger to extra-legal deeds – since 1998 he’s been in trouble across the country for weapons possession, marijuana possession, driving without a license, cocaine possession, criminal mischief, DUI, violation of parole, theft, animal cruelty,  and reckless driving.

The Newark Police are asking anyone with any information on the incident to please call their tip line at 877-NWK-TIPS (695-8477).

Or, if you end up on the wrong side of the law in Newark, call Chance BailBonds to get speedy, confidential bail services as soon as possible.

Man Allegedly Beat by Police Pleads Not Guilty to Aggravated Assault and Resisting Arrest

A 22-year-old Linwood man has been charged with aggravated assault on a police officer, resisting arrest, and inflicting harm on a law enforcement animal in the aftermath of a controversial arrest at the hands of the Atlantic City police in 2013.

At around 3:00 AM on the morning of June 15, 2013, David Connor Castellani got into an argument with several

David Connor Castellani confronts Atlantic City Police before being tackled in a controversial 2013 arrest.

A still frame from the video of the arrest.

Atlantic City police officers outside of the Tropicana Casino and Resort. After walking away from the officers to make a phone call to some friends, Castellani walked back toward them and continued yelling. At this point, five officers tackled him, pummeling on the head and chest. Later, a K-9 officer arrives and lets loose his dog.

A video of the incident, which sparked national outrage, is embedded above.

Castellani required more than 200 stitches, spent two days in the hospital and suffered nerve damage as a result of the incident.

In January, a grand jury cleared the officers of wrongdoing, and indicted Castellani for the aforementioned crimes.

“Obviously, based upon the video, I can’t agree that the grand jury got it right, but I guess that’s why we get to examine the process,” said Steven Scheffler, Castellani’s defense lawyer.

“It’s the Atlantic City Police Department that is called into question when you have an incident like this,” said Police Benevolent Association President Paul Barbere, speaking in support of the grand jury’s decision. “Unfortunately, people rush to judgement on very few facts, limited facts.”

The grand jury’s decision came in January, almost two years after the initial arrest. Castellani pleaded not guilty on Monday. Castellani and his family have also had a pending civil case filed against the police officers involved.

The incident is one in a series of allegations of abuse against Atlantic City Police, most of which never see any punitive action against police. According to a report by the Press of Atlantic City, the department had 473 excessive force complaints, only one of which saw an officer disciplined.

Castellani and his attorney, Steve Scheffler, have applied for a pretrial intervention, which could allow him to avoid prosecution. Scheffler also stated that he is in communication about settling the case with First Assistant Prosecutor Diane Ruberton, but is willing to fight in court.

If convicted, Castellani could face 3-5 years in prison for each of the aggravated assault and resisting arrest charges; inflicting harm on a law enforcement animal is a fourth-degree offense and could result in up to 18 months in prison.

If you find yourself arrested by the Atlantic City police for any reason, be sure to call Chance BailBonds to get fast bail bonds services 24 hours a day, get back home, and begin planning your defense.

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New Jersey Legislator Passes Bill to Criminalize Car Insurance Fraud

If you live in New Jersey, you’ve no doubt noticed the number of cars with out-of-state license plates in driveways and parked on the street. You’re not imagining it, and it’s not an accident – New Jersey has an extremely high rate of insurance fraud, and now the state government is ready to crack down.

New Jersey drivers pay an average of $1,219 annually for their car insurance, which is the highest rate in the entire country. That’s why a growing number of car owners get their vehicles registered in cheaper states like Pennsylvania or Maryland, to dodge Jersey’s premiums and save a buck or two in the process. The problem? The practice, known as “phantom garaging” takes money out of the insurance companies’ pockets, and leaves it to the more honest New Jersey drivers to pick up the slack, in essence subsidizing the fraud.

Last week, at the urging of a group called the Coalition Against Insurance

Insurance Fraud

His car was registered at his brother’s house in Allentown.

Fraud, the state legislature passed a bill (A-2281) that would make false vehicle registration into an official insurance crime.

“Turning premium dodging into an insurance crime would add enforcement teeth to New Jersey’s efforts to clamp down on rate evasion.” said Howard Goldblatt of the Coalition, “The stronger likelihood of a criminal conviction also could help deter others from making the mistake of defrauding their auto insurer.”

The bill was supported by a grassroots campaign organized by the Coalition Against Insurance Fraud, including a letter-writing effort and a testimony before a state legislative committee.

A-2281 passed the Senate 38-0 and was approved 72-0 by the Assembly – now all it needs is the Governor’s signature to become a law.

If signed into law, the bill would mean that so-called “phantom garaging” would qualify as a violation of the New Jersey Insurance Fraud Prevention Act, and those convicted could receive fines of up to $150,000 and face as much as 10 years in state prison.

So consider yourself warned, insurance fraudsters: get your insurance square, or be prepared to face the consequences.

If you find yourself in trouble with any law in the state of New Jersey, be sure to call Chance BailBonds for fast, confidential, 24/7 bail bonds service.

Florida Man Guilty of Impersonating Bail Bondsman

Florida Man Guilty of Impersonating Bail Bondsman

If you want to become a bail bondsman, there’s a right way and a wrong way to go about it. One Florida man this month decidedly chose the latter.

Florida Man Guilty of Impersonating Bail Bondsman

Christopher Robert Smith

Christopher Robert Smith, 31, of Panama City, pleaded no contest earlier this month to charges that he impersonated a bail bondsman.

Smith allegedly used his assumed persona as a bondsman to capture two fugitives and transport them to prison for the bounty. He also allegedly confiscated illegal drugs for his personal use from strippers whom he knew to be wanted on active warrants.

Smith’s no contest plea for impersonating a bondsman comes alongside a Feb. 10 conviction for harassing an undercover narcotics officer in a local convenience store. Smith reportedly yelled obscenities at the Bay County officer, who was in the store with his young daughter. As the officer and his daughter tried to leave in their vehicle, Smith boxed them in with his own car, took a photo of the pair, and put the picture on Facebook identifying the man as an undercover officer. Smith was convicted of harassment for the incident after being acquitted for assault.

The officer had known Smith from a narcotics investigation in 2012, when Bay County authorities were assisting the Florida Department of Financial Services Division of Insurance Fraud in a narcotics investigation of Smith’s home. Smith was arrested during the investigation for impersonating a bail bondsman and on various drug charges. Though all drug-related charges were dropped due to a judge’s ruling that evidence was obtained by illegal search, Smith apparently decided not to drop his grudge.

Lisa Ann Anderson, Smith’s defense attorney in the case of impersonating a bondsman, says that he plans to appeal the harassment charge on First Amendment grounds.

“This boils down to… you don’t have a freedom of speech right when you’re out on bond,” said Anderson. She estimated that the appeals process would take three years.

Barring a successful appeal, Smith will serve a five-year sentence for the harassment conviction concurrently with a 2-and-a-half year sentence for impersonating a bail bondsman.

If you need the services of a real bail bondsman in New Jersey, or want to know how to become one without ending up like Mr. Smith, contact Chance BailBonds LLC today.

Crime in Camden Down, Community Policing Up

Crime in Camden, New Jersey hit an all-time high in 2012 – no mean feat for the notoriously dangerous Rust Belt fixture. In 2012 the city had an astonishing 67 murders, and a rash of other violent and property crimes. The government acted by disbanding the city police and instituting the Camden County Police Department Metro Division with the assistance of Governor Chris Christie.

Bail Bond Services in Camden, New Jersey - Chance BailBonds“In a city suffering from epidemic crime, we acted boldly,” said Christie during last month’s State of the State address. “The results? Murder [is] down 51 percent. Firearm assaults [are] down by one-third [and] all violent crime is down 22 percent.”

Not everyone in Camden shares the Governor’s braggadocio, however.

Critics argue that improvements in Camden’s crime rate have been modest, especially after the record highs of 2012 and the years leading up to it.

Christie’s critics also point to severe funding cuts made in the first two years of his term – over $12 million with 160 officers laid off. Critics suggest that it’s unfair for Christie to take the credit for a drop that was only possible because of a spike his budget cuts caused.

But with the new Metro Division police department came the opportunity to reform tactics, notably the increased use of so-called community policing spearheaded by top cop Scott Thompson.

Community policing emphasizes close ties and teamwork between communities and police, as opposed to more aggressive approaches like New York’s infamous “broken windows” policy. That means, for example, more cops on walking beats talking to residents instead of isolating themselves in patrol cars.

“We’re not polarizing communities,” Thompson said. “We fish with a spear and not with a net. Not everyone needs to feel the weight of law enforcement because of four or five individuals.”

Still, while the relationship between police and the Camden community at large may be at an all-time high, crime still has a way to go.

There were 33 murders in 2014, 10 fewer than the average since 2000, but still higher than normal for a city of Camden’s size – ditto the rape and robbery rate, 51 and 531 in 2014, respectively.

“Is what we’re doing really working?” asked Sgt. Durwin Pearson, driving through Camden’s Centerville neighborhood. “It’s not going to be perfect and I’m not going to say it’s going to become crime free, but it will definitely become a good community — like it used to be.”

If you run into the law and need bail bond services in Camden, NJ, call Chance BailBonds and get home safe.

Ban the Box New Jersey

New Jersey Bans the Box

On March 1, 2015, New Jersey’s Opportunity to Compete Act went into effect, making it the sixth state to prohibit employers from requiring a criminal background check during the first stages of the hiring process.

The effort to outlaw the practice, popularly known as the “ban the box” campaign, applies to all employers with 15 or more employees and threatens fines of up Ban the Box New Jerseyto $10,000 for repeat violations. “Ban the box,” which is a reference to the “criminal history” checkbox on many traditional job applications, is an attempt to curb hiring discrimination and make it easier for former prisoners and those with criminal records to reintegrate into society through gainful employment.

Advocates for the law cite the United States’ record high incarceration rate, alongside the fact that as many as 80 percent of inmates are incarcerated for drug-related offenses as a result of a War on Drugs many see as failed.

State Senator and proponent of the Opportunity to Compete Act Sandra Cunningham (D-Jersey City), said that the measure is, “not about hand-outs or giveaways, but rather responsibility. The text of the legislation is summed in a phrase: competing, win or lose, on your own merits.”

“Everyone deserves a second chance in New Jersey,” said Republican governor Chris Christie when he signed the bill into law.

Of course, not everyone is pleased about the law. Many Republicans see it as a restriction on employers’ freedom to make informed hiring decisions, and a costly administrative burden.

“At a time when government is increasing the minimum wage and creating a confusing, unworkable and costly healthcare system under Obamacare, the last thing businesses need is more onerous regulations,” said New Jersey Assemblyman Parker Space, a member of the Assembly Labor Committee.

The law is part of a sweeping trend of reforms in the country and New Jersey, including the bail reform measure that was signed into law by Gov. Christie last year, and Senator Cory Booker’s national campaign to repeal what he sees as the worst aspects of the War on Drugs.

Whatever the criminal justice system ends up looking like, if you end up on the wrong side of the law in New Jersey, call Chance BailBonds to get help and get home fast.

Olawale Agoro: Hackensack, NJ Man Jailed for Impersonating Blind Twin Brother in Court

Imagine you get a court summons for a handful of motor vehicle violations. You make your court date, but instead of arguing your case before the judge, you claim to be your own legally blind twin, “Tony,” and ask that your brother’s date be postponed. Then you walk out of the room, having convinced the court that you were your own, imaginary twin brother.

It sounds like something out of a TV show or a daydream, but it’s exactly what Hackensack man Olawale Agoro did in Bergen County. And it worked – for a while.

Olawale "Brother Tony" Agoro

Olawale Agoro

Agoro was issued five motor vehicle summonses on July 31, 2014 and appeared in court on September 19, claiming to be Olawale’s legally blind identical twin brother Tony. Agoro claimed that his “brother” couldn’t make it to court, and that he was asking on his behalf for a later court date.

When Agoro left the court he convinced a good Samaritan to drive him around the corner, claiming he couldn’t drive his own car due to blindness, before taking over as driver once out of sight of the courthouse.

Not one to be fooled, however, the original arresting officer Matthew Parodi knew that Agoro was faking, and pulled him over again immediately. Parodi issued three more tickets and had Agoro’s car impounded. Agoro dropped the pretense of blindness in order to get his car back.

Agoro appeared before court clerks twice more as Tony, asking for adjournments on the grounds that his brother Olawale was in Nigeria mourning the death of their father. The clerks granted the two adjournments.

When he finally missed his day in court in February, warrants were issued for Agoro’s arrest. He appeared in court again as Tony, this time arousing the suspicion of the clerks. They called police, who questioned Agoro and were able to conclude that “Tony” never existed.

Agoro was sent to Bergen County Jail in lieu of $20,000 bail, which he was unable to pay.

The moral of the story: don’t pretend to be your imaginary blind twin brother in court four times. You’ll get found out. The other moral: if you’re being held on bond in New Jersey, call Chance BailBonds and avoid the trip to jail.

The Most Dangerous Cities in New Jersey

New Jersey has a strong reputation as a rough and tumble place. Pop culture has long portrayed it as plagued by urban blight and mafia strong arms, and high profile news stories over the years have done little to counter that reputation.

The Most Dangerous Cities in New Jersey - Newark Police

Image source: Flickr user scsmith4

Of course New Jersey is a diverse state and not all cities in the Garden State live up to the hype. The Townships of Chatham, Mahwah, and Sparta for instance rank as among the safest in the nation. But if you want to know which neighborhoods you should definitely avoid, keep reading.

Real estate company Movoto has published a heavily researched list of the most dangerous places in New Jersey, using 2013 FBI crime statistics for murders, violent crimes, property crimes, and total crimes. Ranks were determined by crime per person, weighted more heavily for violent offenses. Coming in the top spots are Asbury Park, Atlantic City, and Newark.

Better known for its beaches, boardwalk, and music scene, Asbury Park may seem like a surprising city to beat out places like Newark and Camden. Nevertheless, its high crime rate and relatively small population mean Asbury Park wins easily. With 842 property crimes, 263 violent crimes, and 6 murders in the population of less than 16,000, you might want to take a little extra care to stay safe next time you visit The Stone Pony.

The only grace saving Atlantic City from the top spot is a higher population – 685 violent crimes (but only 3 murders) and 3,160 property crimes for just under 40,000 people.  And that’s not even counting the people who get fleeced at the Trump Taj Mahal.

­Rounding out the top three is Newark, with only the 9th highest rate of total crimes per person but a particularly high rate of violent crime. With a total population of 278,246 Newark was home to 3,516 violent crimes including 112 murders in 2013.

If you end up on the wrong side of the law anywhere in New Jersey, call Chance BailBonds 24 hours a day for fast, courteous bail bonds service from a professional staff.