State Troopers Lose Jobs Over 2012 Sports Car Death RaceErik Larson
A New Jersey State Police sergeant who escorted a high-speed caravan of Lamborghinis, Ferraris and other sports cars to Atlantic City pleaded guilty to altering the license plates of his troop vehicle to avoid detection.
Nadir Nassry, 47, agreed to forfeit his job, as did a second trooper, 29-year-old Joseph Ventrella, who had joined the unauthorized escort at Nassry’s request, New Jersey Attorney General Jeffrey S. Chiesa said today in an e-mailed statement. Prosecutors will recommend Nassry receive a probationary term at his sentencing hearing scheduled for April 29, Chiesa said.
“These troopers violated” policing standards “and betrayed the public’s trust, undermining public safety and the reputation of the force,” Chiesa said in the statement. “They are justly paying a high price for their poor judgment.”
Motorists reported two state-police cruisers on March 30, 2012, leading a group of more than 20 cars in a “Death Race” convoy at speeds of 100 miles (160 kilometers) an hour toward Atlantic City, according to complaints filed with the New Jersey Turnpike Authority.
The convoy, which also included several Porsches, started in Fort Lee, New Jersey, across the Hudson River from the Washington Heights neighborhood of Manhattan; it finished about 133 miles away at the end of the Atlantic City Expressway, near the Trump Taj Mahal casino, according to the attorney general’s office.
Nassry, a police officer for 26 years, entered the plea today before Superior Court Judge Bradley Ferencz in Middlesex County. Ventrella, who didn’t plead guilty, agreed to waive indictment and be charged “by accusation” with fourth-degree falsifying or tampering with records, Chiesa said today.
“Sergeant Nassry apologizes to motorists endangered on that day” and to Ventrella, “whose career was lost as a result of this one-time act of stupidity,” Nassry’s lawyer, Charles Sciarra, said in an e-mailed statement.
While some motorists characterized the high-speed convoy as a “Death Race,” the vehicles weren’t racing each other and no one was killed in the incident.
Sciarra said in July 2012 that Nassry led the caravan at the request of Brandon Jacobs, who was a player on the National Football League’s San Francisco 49ers. Chiesa said at the time that neither Jacobs nor any other drivers escorted by troopers would face criminal charges.
A New Jersey pension board must decide whether Nassry will keep his pension, because the crime to which he pleaded guilty isn’t among the offenses that result in automatic forfeiture, said Peter Aseltine, a spokesman for the attorney general, today in a phone interview. Ventrella hadn’t worked long enough to qualify for a pension.