Landlord Who Allegedly Supplied New Brunswick Housing Inspector With Cocaine Pleads Guilty

NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ—A New Brunswick landlord is scheduled to be sentenced in August for his role in a drug and gun trafficking operation taken down by State Police in December 2013.

Paul Cano pled guilty to first-degree distribution of cocaine and possession of an assault rifle on March 23, according to a spokesperson for the Attorney General's Office.

"We will recommend that he be sentenced to 10 years in state prison, including 3 ½ years of parole ineligibility," said Peter Aseltine, the spokesperson for the Attorney General's office.

Cano was among ten men swept up in a State Police drug bust that also ended the career of New Brunswick's longtime Chief Housing Inspector, Michael Mahony.

Cano was accused of playing a lead role in an organization that sold large amounts of cocaine, as well as several weapons, all while maintaining four rental properties in New Brunswick.

According to an inside source, Cano regularly sold cocaine to Chief Housing Inspector Michael Mahony and many others at his two neighboring properties on George Street, #151 and #153.  Cano is also the owner of 370 Delavan Street, and and 397 Sanford Street.

The scandalous relationship between the landlord and the man who supervised the staff that inspected his properties was one of several reasons that the bust was unusual.  In all, three public officials were arrested in the busts.

“Crimes involving drug distribution and illegal firearms are always a priority, but this case is more significant for two reasons: public employees were involved and the illegal activity may have been going on for many years,” said Colonel Rick Fuentes, Superintendent of the New Jersey State Police.

Sources told New Brunswick Today that the drug network's clients included police officers and other public officials, some of whom evaded prosecution.

As we previously reported, Mahony avoided jail and was sentenced to probation and barred from public employment after he pleaded guilty to a third-degree drug offense in February.

Michael Vitanza, a laborer who worked for North Brunswick's Department of Public Works was cleared to return to his public job after pleading guilty to a fourth-degree charge, as we reported.

And county officials said the charges against Scott Campion, a Middlesex County sheriff's dispatcher who was once an officer in the Department, have been downgraded to a disorderly persons offense.

"Charge is pending, but it may be going to municipal court," confirmed James O'Neill a spokesperson for the Middlesex County Prosecutor's Office.

Several other men are still facing charges in the expansive case, including a Cranbury business owner.

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Charlie is the founder and editor of New Brunswick Today, and the winner of the Awbrey Award for Community-Oriented Local Journalism. He is a proud Rutgers University journalism graduate and a community organizer, and was an independent candidate for Mayor of New Brunswick in 2018.