NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ—A landlord who owns four properties in New Brunswick, and allegedly dealt cocaine to the city’s Chief Housing Inspector, will continue to be a free man for the time being.
For at least the fifth time in a year, the sentencing of Paul Cano III has been delayed. Cano was busted in December 2013 along with longtime city inspector Michael Mahony, and later pled guilty to first-degree distribution of cocaine and possession of an assault rifle on March 23, 2015.
Cano is one of ten defendants, including three public employees, arrested in State Police takedown of a weapons and drug sales ring announced in January 2014. Cano has been out on $250,000 bail since then.
As we reported, Cano’s 153 George Street home was allegedly where Mahony would pick up large quantities of cocaine and then distribute them using his city vehicle.
State Police said they found a “distribution quantity” of cocaine after they pulled Mahony over in his city-owned truck.
All told, cops said they seized a total of 22 illegal weapons, 14 legal weapons, 1.5 kilos of cocaine, 12 ounces of MDMA, two pounds of marijuana, and several other illegal drugs in the investigation, dubbed “Operation: Smoke Screen.”
Cano’s sentencing was originally scheduled for August 2015, but it was pushed back to September, then November, and again to February 1 was pushed back to April 11.
Now, Cano’s sentencing is scheduled for July 18 at 9:00am in courtroom #503 of the Middlesex County Courthouse.
New Brunswick Today asked the Attorney General’s Office, which is prosecuting the case because it resulted from a State Police investigation, why Cano’s sentencing keeps getting pushed back.
“This is routine in a case involving multiple defendants where all of the defendants have not yet been resolved,” responded Peter Aseltine, a spokesperson for the AG’s Office.
The first two cases resolved were each against public workers, Mahony and Michael Vitanza, a North Brunswick Township employee who was allowed to keep his job after pleading guilty to a fourth-degree crime.
Mahony pled guilty to a possession of cocaine charge and was able to avoid jail by agreeing to probation. He resigned his city job and, as part of the plea deal, will not be allowed to hold a public job in New Jersey ever again.
A third public employee, a Middlesex County Sheriff’s dispatcher whose father is a high-ranking official within the county government, was also tied up in the scandal.
As we reported, dispatcher Scott Campion had previously been a sworn law enforcement officer before losing that job for pulling his service weapon on a waitress, and then being re-hired to work in the same department.
Campion was suspended from the dispatcher job after his arrest was announced in January 2014, and he finally resigned from the public job in March 2015.
But, the Middlesex County Prosecutor’s Office (MCPO) has been silent about Campion’s case, and has refused to even confirm whether or not they are prosecuting him.
County Prosecutor Andrew Carey did not respond to repeated inquiries about the Campion case for several months, raising questions about whether the ex-police was recieving favorable treatment. Carey ignored questions submitted on November 25, December 4, January 28, and January 30.
On February 1, the same day New Brunswick Today exposed the questionable actions of the MCPO, Carey’s spokesperson James O’Neill said, “I don’t think this was our case, but I will check and let you know.”
Two days later, the MCPO punted, remanding or downgrading Campions criminal case to North Brunswick Municipal Court.
New Brunswick Today never heard back from the MCPO. Instead, the agency retaliated by removing our reporters from the list of journalists that recieve their press releases.
Campion is due in municipal court for the first time on Tuesday, April 19 at 9am.
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.