Linden Man Facing Murder Charges Sentenced For Distributing Drugs

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CAMDEN – A Linden man who is also facing murder charges in Hudson County was sentenced Thurdsay to 14 years, 8 months in federal prison for his role in an ecstasy distribution conspiracy, Acting U.S. Attorney Ralph J. Marra, Jr., announced.

In imposing sentence, U.S. District Judge Robert B. Kugler found Zia Berisha, 35, to be a career offender, and cited Berisha’s prior state convictions for aggravated assault and drug distribution. Berisha has been detained since his arrest on Nov. 7, 2007.

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On Jan. 9, 2009, Berisha pleaded guilty before Kugler to a one-count information that charged him with conspiracy to distribute 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine, commonly known as ecstasy.

At the plea hearing, Berisha admitted that on May 8, 2006, he bought 4,000 ecstasy pills from individuals in Brooklyn, N.Y. for $14,000. He also admitted that on June 20, 2006, he sold approximately 1,300 ecstasy pills to an individual in Linden for approximately $5,000. That individual was actually a cooperating witness working with the FBI.

FBI agents had been investigating Berisha’s drug-dealing activity for several months when he was arrested in Elizabeth on Nov. 7, 2007. Berisha was pulled over by Elizabeth police officers for a traffic violation, and officers found drugs, cash and several expensive watches in Berisha’s car, authorities said. Berisha also had outstanding arrest warrants for probation violations at that time.

Later that same day, Michael Marro, 39, was found beaten and shot to death in his Jersey City  apartment. The Hudson County Prosecutor’s Office soon charged Berisha with Marro’s murder after it was determined that one of the watches found in Berisha’s car belonged to Marro, and that Berisha and Marro had exchanged text messages the night of the murder, authorities said.

Another individual, Agim Gjonbalahj, 34, of Brooklyn, was arrested on Oct. 29, 2008, and has also been charged in Marro’s murder. The murder trial in state Superior Court is expected to take place in late 2009 or early 2010, authorities said.


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