N.J. troopers suspended for high-speed escort

(CBS/AP) TRENTON, N.J. - Two New Jersey state troopers have been suspended without pay, following reports they served as escorts last month for a group of high-performance luxury cars on a 100-mph trip down the Garden State Parkway, alarming other motorists.

The State Attorney General's office announced Monday that Sgt. First Class Nadir Nassry, 47, and Trooper Joseph Ventrella, 28, had both been suspended without pay. Nassry has been a trooper for 25 years and Ventrella has been on the force for six years.

The attorney general's office is investigating the incident involving Porsches, Lamborghinis and Ferraris in a caravan down the Garden State Parkway. Witnesses said the vehicles' license plates were covered with tape.

According to CBS Station WCBS, witnesses said that the state police patrol cars, with emergency lights flashing, were driving in front of and behind the caravan. Another witness said he saw the cars weaving in and out of traffic at high speed.

Many drivers said they struggled to get out of the caravan's way, including one who almost ended up in a ditch.

A video posted on YouTube (Warning: Graphic language) shows a similar incident two years ago, when state police cars appeared to escort a caravan of high-performance cars down the parkway, even ushering them through toll booths and, later, blocking street intersections to let them pass. Authorities said a similar scene played out last month.

"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," Attorney General Jeffrey Chiesa said in a statement.

Gov. Chris Christie also weighed in on the matter Monday, saying the alleged escort of the caravan was a "dumb thing to do."

"I just shook my head. You know, what are you gonna do?" Christie said. "It shouldn't have happened, dumb thing to do, but let me assure you it's not the last dumb thing that we'll see happen."

Charles Sciarra, the lawyer for Nassry, told CBS Station WCBS that high-speed caravan escorts have been going on for decades. He said the incident had been blown out of proportion and that charitable organizations "routinely ask and receive escorts from the State Police to and from the various charitable functions they attend with their exotic vehicles."

It was not immediately clear whether the March 30 trip was connected to a charitable event.

Reportedly among the travelers in the caravan: Former Giants running back Brandon Jacobs, now with the San Francisco 49ers.

When asked to confirm the report, Jacobs' agent Justin Schulman told the Newark Star-Ledger, "Brandon was part of a group that went down to Atlantic City on March 30."

The newspaper also reported Monday that the attorney general's office said the commander of a state police substation had been transferred until more information about his involvement in the incident could be determined.


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