YOU READ IT HERE FIRST: A judge today set bail at $250,000 cash for a Florida man accused of shipping a .45-caliber handgun to New Jersey that was later used to fire on a Hackensack police cruiser.
Jorge Alberto Rodriguez, of Pembroke Pines, visibly flinched when Presiding Superior Court Judge Liliana DeAvila-Silebi agreed to the bail request by Assistant Bergen County Prosecutor Danielle Grootenboer in a Hackensack courtroom.
The 6-foot-4-inch Rodriguez frequently had to lean down to discuss his case with defense attorney Brian A. Heyesey, who argued for bail of $25,000 to $100,000, with a 10% option.
“Obviously I’m at a great disadvantage,” Heyesey told the judge. “I have only had the opportunity of a brief conversation with my client at the jail.”
Grootenboer, in turn, noted that Rodriguez already had ducked authorities in Florida following an indictment there for possessing a concealed firearm in connection with drug offenses.
DeAvila-Silebi, in refusing a 10% option, emphasized the investigation is still in its initial stages.
* * * * * *
- YOU READ IT HERE FIRST: A Hackensack police officer “is lucky to be alive” after a bullet fired by an armed man beingchased overnight shattered the windshield of his squad car and whizzed by his head, city Police Director Michael Mordaga told CLIFFVIEW PILOT this afternoon. READ MORE ….
* * * * * *
“There are multiple victims, and he is facing significant exposure,” she told Heyesey. “The case could, in essence, turn into a significant sentence of more than 30 years.
“I don’t know anything at the moment except he’s not from here,” she said.
Authorities said 22-year-old Robert Leonardis fired the .45-caliber handgun at a police cruiser — with one round hitting the hood and another going through the windshield, narrowly missing the officer driving – while being chased before dawn on July 22.
Leonardis has remained in critical condition at Hackensack University Medical Center since then. He is charged with a variety of offenses, including attempted murder of a police officer.
Meanwhile, detectives from the Bergen County Prosecutor’s Major Crimes Unit traced the firearm to Florida, which has “lenient gun laws and only requires a driver’s license” to buy one, Prosecutor John L. Molinelli said earlier this month.
Assisted by members of the Broward County Sheriff’s Department, Molinelli’s detectives arrested Rodriguez on July 30 after determining that he sold and shipped the weapon for $500 to a Cliffside Park man.
He was then extradited to Bergen County — arriving at the county jail on Sunday — to face charges of unlawfully transporting a firearm into New Jersey for an unlawful sale or transfer.
(STORY / PHOTOS: Mary K. Miraglia, CLIFFVIEW PILOT Courthouse Reporter)
A series of searches on July 25 led to four other arrests, as well, by detectives from Molinelli’s Major Crimes Unit:
SEAN STARK , 23, of Paramus, provided the handgun to Leonardis, the prosecutor said. He was being held on $300,000 bail in the Bergen County Jail, charged with Unlawful Possession of a Handgun, Possession of a Handgun during the Commission of a Crime, CDS Distribution, Possession with the Intent to Distribute Marijuana, Possession of Ecstasy and Possession of Psilocybin. A theft charge was added on July 29, boosting his bail by $50,000 from $250,000.
JERRY A. NUNEZ , a/k/a “Angel” Nunez, 21, of Cliffside Park, imported the handgun into New Jersey via UPS from a connection in Florida, then sold it to Stark for $500, Molinelli said. Nunez was being held on $250,000 bail, charged with Transporting a Firearm into New Jersey for Unlawful Sale, Unlawful Possession of a Handgun, Possession with the Intent to Distribute Ecstasy, Possession of Ecstasy, Possession with the Intent to Distribute Marijuana and Possession of Marijuana.
CHRISTIANA L. CYRIAX , 22, of Upper Saddle River, was involved in the distribution of drugs with Stark, her boyfriend, Molinelli said. She has been charged on a summons with Possession with Intent to Distribute Marijuana, Possession of Ecstasy and Possession of Psilocybin, he said.
ALEXANDER J. KIM , 23, Paramus, an associate of Stark’s who lives at the same address, has been charged on a summons with Possession of Ecstasy and Possession of Drug Paraphernalia.
PHOTOS, ABOVE: SEAN STARK, JERRY A. NUNEZ, ALEXANDER J. KIM (MUGSHOTS: Courtesy BCPO)
Click here to sign up for Daily Voice's free daily emails and news alerts.