New Jersey troopers are being investigated after allegedly escorting exotic sports cars at high speeds on a highway. WNBC's Brian Thompson reports.
Two New Jersey state troopers were charged Friday in connection with a high-speed escort of luxury sports cars down the Garden State Parkway, state officials said.
Sgt. 1st Class Nadir Nassry, a 25-year-veteran of the State Police, and trooper Joseph Ventrella, 28, were suspended without pay in April over the March incident, one in a series of high-speed escorts that came under scrutiny.
The Garden State Parkway caravan made national headlines after one motorist who passed by the Lamborghinis, Ferraris and other exotic cars described it as "Death Race 2012."
No one was hurt and there were no accidents as the convoy drove from northern Jersey to Atlantic City. Video of the incident by a construction worker appeared to show that some of the vehicles had tape over their license plates.
On Friday, Nassry was charged with tampering with public records or information and falsifying or tampering with records, according to the state attorney general's office. Ventrella was charged with a single count of falsifying or tampering with records. The charges stem from allegations that the officers altered their license plates by using black electrical tape to change the numbers.
Nassryalso allegedly instructed the other drivers in the caravan to conceal or partially conceal their plates using tapes or other means.
“What they did was absolutely wrong,” New Jersey Attorney General Jeffrey Chiesa said at a Trenton news conference where the charges were announced, the Star-Ledger of Newark reported.
Nassry, an assistant station commander, on Thursday took full responsibility for the March escort and submitted his retirement papers. He also asked for leniency for Ventrella, who he said was simply following orders and has been on the force only six years.
The sergeant agreed to participate in the escort because of his friendship with Brandon Jacobs, a former member of the New York Giants, now with the San Francisco 49ers, who was part of the caravan, said Nassry's attorney, Charles Sciarra.
The escorted motorists, members of the Driving Force Club, have not been accused of any wrongdoing.
The investigation into the escorts also led to a major shake-up of state police brass, with the reassignment of 10 state police commanders.
Chiesa and the state police superintendent, Col. Rick Fuentes, on Friday also unveiled a new policy governing state police escorts that is intended to more sharply define accountability for troopers involved in those kinds of events, set forth a clear chain of command for approvals and enhance the safety of other motorists, the Star-Ledger reported.
The State Police have filed administrative disciplinary charges against two troopers who escorted a similar caravan on June 27, 2010, the Star-Ledger reported. The charges allege improper conduct and unsafe driving. In addition, the state police filed disciplinary charges against two supervisors for alleged improper supervision.
Chiesa and Fuentes also announced disciplinary charges against a trooper who allegedly mishandled a speeding ticket issued in 2010 to the owner of a yellow Lamborghini who was stopped for going 116 mph in a 65 mph zone on the Parkway, the Star-Ledger reported. A photograph of driver Joseph Srour, holding the ticket and smiling, was posted on the Driving Force Club website, the paper reported.
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