TRENTON, N.J. (AP) - Two state troopers lost their jobs Monday for escorting a caravan of sports cars that traveled the Garden State Parkway last year at 100 mph.
Both Nadir Nassry and Joseph Ventrella also appeared in court in New Brunswick to face charges that they tampered with records — specifically that they used electrical tape to cover alter their license plate numbers to cover up their involvement.
Nassry, a sergeant first-class who had been a trooper for 26 years, pleaded guilty to a charge of falsifying or tampering with records. The 47-year-old Phillipsburg resident could be sentenced up to 18 months in prison, but prosecutors agreed to recommend probation. In a statement through his lawyer, Nassry apologized to drivers who were endangered, the state police and Ventrella, calling the incident a "one-time act of stupidity."
Ventrella, a 29-year-old Bloomingdale resident with seven years on the force, pleaded not guilty to the same charge. Prosecutors recommend he be allowed into a pretrial intervention program. If a judge agrees and he completes the requirements, he would end up without a criminal record. His lawyer, Vincent Nuzzi, said he did not admit to committing any crimes.
As part of their agreements with the state, both men agreed that they would never work again in law enforcement in New Jersey.
Both troopers were suspended soon after the caravan and surrendered to authorities last year. Nassry submitted retirement papers and took responsibility for the escort, though he denied taping his license plates. He also asked for leniency for Ventrella, whom he said was only following orders.
Nassry's lawyer said his client agreed to participate in the caravan because of his friendship with Brandon Jacobs, a former New York Giants player, who was part of the line of fast-moving sports cars.
Witnesses said the March 30, 2012, caravan to Atlantic City weaved through traffic and forced some drivers off the road.
The caravan recalled a similar incident in 2010. After a high-speed escort involving troopers then, there was a major shake-up of state police brass, with 10 commanders reassigned.