TRENTON – A suspended senior state correction officer from Newark pleaded guilty to trafficking 22 kilograms of cocaine from Texas to New Jersey, Attorney General Paula T. Dow and Criminal Justice Director Stephen J. Taylor announced Wednesday.
According to Taylor, Eugene W. Braswell, 31, who worked at Northern State Prison, pleaded guilty to first-degree cocaine trafficking and second-degree official misconduct before Superior Court Judge John J. Coyle Jr. in Warren County late Tuesday afternoon.
The state will recommend that Braswell be sentenced to 15 to 20 years in prison, including 10 to 12½ years of parole ineligibility. He faces five years without possibility of parole on the official misconduct charge and a consecutive sentence of 10 to 15 years, including five to 7½ years of parole ineligibility, on the drug charge. He must forfeit his job as a senior correction officer and his state pension. Sentencing is scheduled for May 6.
“This senior correction officer was living a corrupt double life, guarding prisoners for the state while moonlighting as a major drug trafficker,” said Dow. “Through this plea, we have ensured that he will be spending all of his time in prison for the foreseeable future.”
Braswell and five other men were charged in an Oct. 15, 2009 indictment obtained as a result of an investigation by the New Jersey State Police and the New Jersey Division of Criminal Justice.
On Jan. 21, Delrese Hardy, 37, of East Orange, pleaded guilty to a first-degree drug trafficking charge before Judge Coyle. He faces a sentence of 15 to 20 years in prison, including seven to 10 years of parole ineligibility. In pleading guilty, Braswell admitted that he and Hardy arranged to have two other men transport 22 kilograms of cocaine to New Jersey from Houston, Texas. Those men, Walter S. Braden, 33, of East Orange, and Shuerod Walton, 39, of East Orange, pleaded guilty to second-degree conspiracy charges and face up to seven years in prison.
Two additional members of the drug trafficking ring, Joseph L. Jones, 39, of Newark, and Antwan K. Jones, 39, of Sewaren, pleaded guilty on Jan. 21 to second-degree conspiracy to distribute cocaine. They each face a sentence of seven to eight years in prison, including three to four years of parole ineligibility.
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.
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.
“Braswell’s involvement in a fatal shooting in Newark raised a red flag for detectives of the State Police and Division of Criminal Justice, who subsequently uncovered his narcotics network,” said Taylor. “All six defendants in this case now face lengthy prison sentences.”
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.
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