Prosecutor: Charges dismissed for man with antique gun

Posted: February 27, 2015 by gamegetterII in anti-gun asshattery
Tags: , , , , , , ,

Via Daniel J. Kov,

A felony gun charge against a Port Elizabeth resident arrested by police last year for possessing an unloaded antique weapon has been dismissed by the Cumberland County Prosecutor’s Office, according to a news release issued Wednesday.

Prosecutor Jennifer Webb-McRae announced in the release that the state will exercise “prosecutorial discretion to dismiss” the second-degree unlawful possession of a weapon charge against Gordon N. Van Gilder.

“Accordingly, the public should be forewarned about the prescriptions against possessing a firearm — even an antique — in a vehicle,” she continued.

Webb-McRae declined to comment further on the dismissal.

Van Gilder’s Eatontown attorney Evan Nappen said he was delighted to hear charges were dropped.

The attorney learned of the dismissal while in an interview with The Daily Journal.

“That is very good,” he said while reading the news release over the phone. “I commend the prosecutor for exercising her dis

cretion accordingly.”

If convicted of the second-degree charge, Van Gilder could have faced a maximum of 10 years behind bars

The charge also carried a minimum 3.5-year sentence that could have seriously jeopardized Van Gilder’s public school pension, his right to vote and his reputation in the community, Nappen said.

“I’m very appreciative that they exercised their discretion here and did the right thing,” Nappen said.

Nappen said his client will follow up on trying to retrieve the centuries-old “Queen Anne” flintlock antique pistol now in custody of the county.

“It’s a valuable collector’s item,” he said.

The dismissal comes after a two-week long public outcry against state and law enforcement officials, with many charging that officials overstepped in their pursuit of charges against the elderly man over an unloaded antique weapon.

Van Gilder, a 72-year-old former educator at Millville Senior High School, was arrested at his Port Elizabeth home by members of the Cumberland County Sheriff’s Department on Nov. 21, 2014.

The arrest came a day after he and 22-year-old Adam Puttergill were stopped in their Toyota Tacoma by Sheriff’s Department officers in a Millville neighborhood.

The two said they were in the process of returning to their Port Elizabeth home after visiting a Vineland pawn shop, at which Van Gilder purchased the 300-year-old flintlock pistol.

Puttergill was acting as the driver for Van Gilder, who suffers severe arthritis, he said.

He also lives with Van Gilder, who informally adopted him about a decade ago.

Cumberland County Sheriff Robert Austino later said his officers pulled the two over because they were in a suspicious neighborhood known for illegal drug activity.

While talking to the two, officers at the scene discovered empty heroin bags and a broken scale used for measuring drugs, Austino said.

The discovery prompted a full search of the vehicle and officers also found Van Gilder’s 300-year-old flintlock pistol wrapped in cloth inside the glove compartment.

Puttergill was taken into custody on an outstanding Vineland Municipal Court contempt warrant, he told The Daily Journal last week.

He also was charged with possessing two prescription pills that were not in their pharmacy container. The drug charge has since been handled by Puttergill’s attorney in Millville Municipal Court, resulting in a conditional discharge of the charge.

While Van Gilder was let go at the scene, Sheriff’s Officers returned to his home the next day and arrested and booked the 72-year-old on the unlawful weapons charge for his unregistered gun.

The incident quickly went on to attract state and national attention following revelation of the arrest by The Daily Journal last week.

Nappen and other public supporters of Van Gilder accused the Sheriff’s Department of a “smear campaign” for charging the elderly man with what they view as an egregious and overstepping charge.

The incident even spurred at least two New Jersey lawmakers to introduce bills that would provide state judges with sentencing discretion in such future cases involving those charged with unlawful weapons possession.

A bill sponsored by state Sen. Jeff Van Drew and Assemblyman Bob Andrzejczak, whose district includes Millville, would further revise the Graves Act, allowing courts to permit a person convicted of unlawful possession of a firearm admittance to pretrial intervention or supervisory treatment if they had no known association with a criminal street gang and no criminal convictions.


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