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Suppressing Drug Evidence
MOUNT OLIVE – A Superior Court judge today refused to dismiss as evidence 364 pounds of marijuana that police seized from a California truck driver in Mount Olive on Sept. 7.
J. Arturo Vergara, 33, of Ontario, Calif., was charged with possession of marijuana with intent to distribute following a routine stop by a state trooper for a vehicle inspection on Route 80 east.
Vergara’s attorney, James Porfido, sought to suppress the marijuana as evidence because Trooper Brian Dolinsky had not obtained a search warrant for the tractor-trailer.
Judge Stuart Minkowitz, sitting in Morristown, ruled that Dolinsky did not need a warrant because “administrative searches” of commercial vehicles are routine and do not require warrants.
Dolinsky was making a safety inspection of the vehicle to ensure that its “load was properly secured” when he noticed the bales of marijuana at the front of the trailer, Minkowitz said.
Morris County Assistant Prosecutor Alissa Hascup said her office will be extending a plea offer to Vergara. Because of the amount of marijuana involved, Vergara would have to serve a minimum of 57 months in state prison, she said.
Minkowitz scheduled a pretrial conference for Sept. 7.
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