Friday, September 26th, 2014

Morris County Freeholder Director Tom Mastrangelo is applauding Wednesday’s decision by the Atlantic County prosecutor to offer pretrial intervention to a Philadelphia woman who was facing prison time after bringing into New Jersey a gun she owns legally in Pennsylvania.
The Morris County Freeholder Board during its Sept. 22 public meeting approved a resolution presented by Mastrangelo that urged Atlantic County Prosecutor Jim McClain to exercise prosecutorial discretion in the case of Shaneen Allen of Philadelphia.

The 27-year-old Allen was arrested by State Police last year when, during a traffic stop outside Atlantic City, she said she told a State Trooper she had a legally-purchased gun and a concealed carry permit from Pennsylvania. However, the Pennsylvania permit is not valid in New Jersey, and McClain was set to press for the mandatory prison sentence called for under New Jersey law for the single mother of two.

“Even the presiding Superior Court judge in Atlantic County called into question the appropriateness of a mandatory sentence in this matter,” Mastrangelo said.

The Atlantic County prosecutor changed his mind Sept. 24 and offered the pretrial diversion program to Allen after hearing from the New Jersey Attorney General who said exceptions to mandatory sentencing can be made in cases of legal out-of-state gun owners who are unaware of New Jersey laws.

Mastrangelo’s resolution adopted by the freeholder board Sept. 22 strongly urged McClain to divert Allen into a pretrial intervention program.

“I’m very glad the prosecutor decided to use his discretion in this case,” Mastrangelo said.

The Morris Freeholders also urged state lawmakers to approve and for the governor to sign a bill (A3608) to extend to judges the ability to exercise sentencing discretion in firearms cases of this nature.