Minutes Before Trial is set to begin, Cocaine Distribution Network Defendants from Lakewood Plead Guilty

trial_final_arguments_tls_picOcean County Prosecutor Joseph D. Coronato today announced defendants James P. Gadson, Jr. aka “Usef” and Sharon Bowen entered guilty pleas minutes before the selected trial Jury was to be sworn and opening statements were to be delivered.

On Tuesday, August 12, 2014, Gadson, 47, and Bowen, 33, both of Lakewood faced second-degree Conspiracy charges in connection with a cocaine-distribution network that Gadson was charged with heading. Gadson also faced charges as the Leader of that Narcotics Trafficking Network, a first-degree crime that carries a mandatory term of life imprisonment with a twenty-five-year parole-ineligibility requirement. Because of Gadson’s extensive criminal history, he would have faced a thirty-year parole-ineligibility stipulation had he been convicted of the Leader Charge. The pair had been indicted with numerous other co-conspirators after an extensive wiretap investigation by the Special Operations Group of the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office, with the assistance of the Lakewood Police Department and other municipal law-enforcement agencies.

Gadson pled guilty to second-degree Distribution of Cocaine, and agreed to imposition of an eighteen-year prison sentence with a nine-year period during which he will be ineligible for parole consideration. Bowen pled guilty to third-degree Possession of Cocaine with the Intent to Distribute. Her plea calls for a period of probation, and the State will seek 180 days in the Ocean County Jail as a condition of that probation.

The conspiracy unveiled by the wiretap investigation involved distribution of no less than 167 grams of cocaine by Gadson to Bowen and other conspirators during the twenty-day period of the wiretap. During the court-authorized intercepts, Gadson was heard bragging about obtaining and re-selling through his network more than five hundred grams of cocaine in the weeks preceding the wiretap. Various co-conspirators had pled guilty prior to the slated trial, with some having agreed to testify against Gadson. Others had pled guilty and been sent to NJ State Prison. There is no sentencing date presently set.

The Prosecutor’s Office would like to thank and acknowledge the assistance of the participating law-enforcement agencies, including: the Lakewood Police Department, the Ocean County Sherriff’s Department, the Seaside Heights Police Department, the Lavallette Police Department, and the New Jersey State Police Electronic Surveillance Unit.

Supervising Assistant Prosecutor William Porter and Senior Assistant Prosecutor Michael Abatemarco handled the matter and were prepared to prosecute the case. Detective Nadine Bauman, Tiffany Resnick and John Doran of the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office assisted with the matter. Det. Thomas Kulpinski of the State Police Electronic Surveillance Unit — whom the Court had already qualified as an expert in the matter — also provided invaluable support and was slated to testify.

[TLS]

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