Here are five things you need to know about crime in Rockland County. Video by Jordan Fenster/lohud Wochit
A year after they were arrested in Hillburn on gun charges while target shooting, two New Jersey men left Rockland County Court on Monday feeling vindicated.
As they were about to go to trial, accused of illegally possessing guns and high-capacity magazines in the Ramapo village, criminal charges were dropped against Dominic Borghetti and Nicolas Cianciaruso.
Rockland County Court Judge Kevin Russo ruled on Monday that the guns and ammunition found on the two men, who had been target shooting with a third New Jersey man near the border between Bergen and Rockland counties, could not be used as evidence, their lawyers said today, adding that the guns were legally owned in New Jersey.
“It was the greatest feeling in the world when you walked out of that courtroom,” Borghetti said today.
“It was like the world was sitting on top of your shoulders for pretty much 365 days, not knowing exactly what was going to happen,” the 23-year-old Hackensack resident.
Borghetti, Cianciaruso, and David Lamela were arrested on July 8, 2018, in Hillburn, where Ramapo police said they had responded to reports of gunshots in the area. Police said the trio had 13 guns, including an assault rifle and high-capacity magazines.
Borghetti and Cianciaruso, a 24-year-old Mahwah resident, were indicted on felony weapons possession charges. Lamela, who was 26 at the time of his arrest, was charged with second-degree criminal possession of a weapon, a felony.
The case against Lamela, a West New York resident, was separated from the cases against Borghetti and Cianciaruso. Lamela’s case is still pending, and his next appearance in Hillburn Village Court is set for Thursday. He could not immediately be reached for comment.
Borghetti and Cianciaruso were scheduled to begin trial on Monday, but two Ramapo police officers testified at a suppression hearing that morning, when Russo ruled that there had not been probable cause to arrest the two men and seize their guns and ammunition, so the weapons and statements made to police could not be used at trial, said Borghetti’s lawyer, Peter Tilem.
“With that, the district attorney had no choice because he had nothing to go forward with, and had to dismiss the case,” David Goldstein, Cianciaruso’s lawyer, said.
Borghetti and Cianciaruso lawfully owned their guns, their lawyers said.
“New Jersey is not Texas,” Tilem said. “They have to have squeaky clean backgrounds to be able to obtain these types of weapons in the state of New Jersey.”
Goldstein said Cianciaruso “was ecstatic that it ended properly. Quite frankly, I was extremely disappointed that this matter didn’t resolve prior to this.”
Borghetti said that, during the past year as the case headed toward trial, he did not feel innocent until proven guilty.
“I’ve never been in trouble in my entire life,” he said. “I’ve had two parking tickets. Just to be treated like basically a criminal for 365 days was a little frightening, to say the least.”
On Monday, though, he said, “I felt as if the judge finally listened to the whole entire story that he was given.”
The Rockland County District Attorney’s Office did not immediately have any comment on the cases.
Read or Share this story: https://www.lohud.com/story/news/crime/2019/07/10/rockland-gun-charges-dismissed-against-new-jersey-men/1692313001/