‘Death Race’ Investigation Leads to Trooper Suspensions [VIDEO]
Two members of the New Jersey State Police have been suspended without pay, and another has been transferred from his command post, as authorities investigate the unauthorized escort by state troopers of a group of sports cars down the New Jersey Turnpike, Garden State Parkway and Atlantic City Expressway.
The preliminary inquiry into the late March incident revealed enough information to warrant immediate action, according to the Attorney General's Office.
On Monday, Sergeant First Class Nadir Nassry was suspended without pay, pending the outcome of the investigation. Nassry had been a trooper for 25 years. Trooper Joseph Ventrella has also been suspended without pay. He had been on the force for six years.
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Also, the Totowa Station Commander was immediately transferred until any involvement on his part is determined.
“We will not tolerate any conduct by a member of the State Police that puts the public in jeopardy, as this unauthorized caravan had the potential to do,” said Attorney General Jeffrey S. Chiesa. “We are thoroughly investigating this incident, and those responsible will face serious discipline."
Witnesses said they saw two police cruisers escorting a caravan of Porsches, Ferraris and other luxury cars on March 30, at times reaching triple-digit speeds. Complaints also claimed the patrol cars had their flashing lights on, and the sports cars' license plates were covered by tape.
Colonel Rick Fuentes, Superintendent of the New Jersey State Police, said:
"As troopers, we cannot require the public to obey laws that we are not willing to uphold for everyone equally. I will not tolerate this egregious breach of public safety, and those responsible will be held fully accountable.”
A prior escort was discovered during the internal investigation; a separate investigation has been initiated regarding that incident. It is not yet clear whether the two are related.
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Governor Chris Christie called the incident "a completely ridiculous story" and "a dumb thing to do."
He continued, "People are human beings, and they make mistakes, and those people who made this mistake should be held accountable for it, and they will."
He also said he's glad no one was hurt, though some witness accounts claim the safety of drivers was clearly threatened.
The lawyer retained by SFC Nassry said Nassry was asked through NFL star Brandon Jacobs to arrange for an escort from locations in North Jersey to a meeting in Atlantic City, to discuss matters concerning a group of exotic car owners who engage in multiple charity events in New Jersey and New York.
An agent for Jacobs said he was part of a group that went to Atlantic City on March 30, but he declined to comment further.
At this time, there have been no charges or motor vehicle summonses issued regarding "Death Race 2012," as one eyewitness named it.