MILLTOWN, NJ—Neil Raciti, a local government official who also serves in law enforcement, was charged with owning an illegal AR-15 semi-automatic assault rifle, according to the Middlesex County Prosecutor’s Office (MCPO).
The weapons charges came just four days after Raciti was charged with aggravated assault after an incident where he allegedly fractured someone’s elbow.
On September 25, Raciti was charged with two weapons offenses after the rifle and nine magazine clips were seized from his home, according to prosecutors.
“While the trigger mechanism on the weapon had been removed, Raciti was charged because he had failed to properly register the weapon with police, thus making ownership illegal,” reads the press release from the MCPO.
“Although possession of assault rifles is illegal in New Jersey, there was a period between May 30, 1990 and May 30, 1991 in which owners of such weapons could lawfully keep them if they registered the guns with police as target rifles or rendered the weapons inoperative,” the release explained.
The new charges will be yet another obstacle for the 47-year-old Borough Council President, who served in the US military before joining the Middlesex County Sheriff’s Office (MCSO) during the tenure of notoriously corrupt Sheriff Joseph Spicuzzo, who was jailed for selling police jobs.
A sheriff’s officer for 12 years, Raciti recently became the third employee of the embattled agency currently sidelined by a suspension.
MCSO Dispatcher Scott Campion has been suspended without pay since December 2013, when he, New Brunswick’s Chief Housing Inspector, and a North Brunswick Township worker were all arrested and charged with drug offenses.
Sheriff Millie Scott, who took over for Spicuzzo, did not immediately answer questions about who the third suspended employee is.
Raciti, whose father was a well-known Democrat and county government worker in charge of purchasing, recently switched from Democrat to Republican and is seeking re-election this fall.
Asked if the charges were due to his recent defection from the powerful party that has run the county government for decades, Raciti hinted that New Brunswick Today might be on to something.
“[You’re] obviously very intelligent Charlie. I will not make a comment yet,” he responded, promising to give an exclusive interview “once the matter is resolved.”
It is unclear when and where Raciti obtained the weapon, or if it was connected to the illegal gun sales operation targeted by State Police in 2013. A prosecutor’s office spokesperson declined to give any details.
Despite facing charges of possession of an assault weapon, a second degree offense, and one count of possession of a high-capacity magazine, Raciti was able to get out of jail quickly.
Raciti’s bail was set at just $25,000 by East Brunswick municipal court judge Robyn Brown, and Raciti was allowed to post just 10% of that amount through a bail bondsman.
“He was taken into custody and held for some period before posting bail,” said James O’Neill a spokesperson for the MCPO.
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, a community organizer, and a former independent candidate for mayor of New Brunswick.