TRENTON –A New Brunswick man was sentenced to 20 years in state prison Thursday for selling an AK-47 assault rifle and two handguns to an informant during an undercover investigation by the Division of Criminal Justice, Attorney General Jeffrey S. Chiesa announced.
Antonio Powell, 39, of New Brunswick, was sentenced to 20 years in prison, including 10 years of parole ineligibility, by Superior Court Judge Bradley J. Ferencz in Middlesex County. Powell pleaded guilty on March 5, as he was about to go on trial, to all 11 counts of a state grand jury indictment obtained by the Division of Criminal Justice Gangs & Organized Crime Bureau. Deputy Attorney General Russell J. Curley prosecuted Powell. Ferencz granted Curley’s request that Powell be sentenced to an extended term as a persistent offender.
“This defendant was prepared to sell deadly firepower to anyone who would pay his price,” said Chiesa. “When he was offered $1,500 through our undercover investigation, he produced a fully loaded AK-47 within about an hour, delivered in a black garbage bag on a New Brunswick street corner. The profits of illegal gun traffickers such as Powell are paid for with the blood of the many people who fall victim to gun violence each year in our urban centers.”
“We have stepped up our investigations and prosecutions of those who traffic and possess illegal guns,” said Director Stephen J. Taylor of the Division of Criminal Justice. “Through independent investigations such as this one, or working in concert with partners including the State Police, we are going after those responsible for the proliferation of guns and gun crime in New Jersey.”
An investigation by the Division of Criminal Justice Gangs & Organized Crime Bureau determined that Powell was a weapons trafficker who acquired illegal guns and sold them on the streets of New Brunswick. Using an informant and an undercover detective, investigators bought three guns from Powell at various locations in New Brunswick between June and October of 2008: (1) a 7.62x39mm Norinco assault rifle (AK-47) with a fully loaded 30-round magazine; (2) a HiPoint 9mm handgun with ammunition; and (3) an RG40 .38-caliber handgun.
Powell pleaded guilty to charges of unlawful possession of an assault firearm (2nd degree); unlawful sale of an assault firearm (2nd degree); possession of a prohibited large capacity magazine (4th degree); sale of a prohibited large capacity magazine (4th degree); two counts of unlawful possession of a handgun (2nd degree); two counts of unlawful sale of a handgun (2nd degree); and three counts of possession of a firearm as a convicted felon (2nd degree).
The investigation was led by Detective Keith Stopko, Detective Timothy Savage and Deputy Attorney General Curley. The New Brunswick Police Department provided assistance.
Earlier this month, Chiesa announced a new initiative in which the New Jersey State Police and the Division of Criminal Justice are aggressively targeting gun violence in New Jersey through strategic investigations focused on seizing existing weapons in violent areas, disrupting the supply-chain of weapons trafficking into those areas, and aggressively prosecuting criminals involved in the illegal sale and possession of weapons.
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