SOMERVILLE, NJ—While a Middlesex County judge is still awaiting the final result of the case against her, the man who she is accused of harboring as a fugitive was convicted of a 2013 armed robbery in Old Bridge.
The Middlesex County Prosecutor’s Office (MCPO) announced the conviction of Jason Prontnicki, who had been accused of robbing the Woods Pharmacy on Texas Road with a “lug wrench” on April 29, 2013.
Prontnicki, a 45-year-old Bayonne resident, was charged with and convicted of not only armed robbery, but also possession of a weapon for an unlawful purpose and unlawful possession of a weapon.
“Prontnicki fled without out taking any property when the store employee warned him that police were alerted and would be arriving soon,” reads the MCPO press release.
But the man is still “facing a prison term of 10 to 20 years for the crimes.” Sentencing is scheduled for November 18.
The case, like the case of Judge Carlia Brady, had been moved to Somerset County courts to avoid a conflict of interest after the messy situation with Brady unfolded shortly after the robbery.
Judge Robert Reed is presiding over both cases.
It all started when Brady went to the Woodbridge Township Police to report her car had been stolen by her then-bodyfriend Prontnicki.
But Brady, who had recently been named the state’s first Filipino-American judge by Chris Christie, now may regret ever geting the local cops involved.
Police informed her that Prontnicki had a warrant out for his arrest, and even though Brady twice followed up with voice messages to the department after encounters with the fugitive, cops arrested them both in June 2013.
Though Brady is not facing nearly the punishment that Prontnicki is, she has been suspended from the $165,000 per year judge job, though she is still listed on the state’s official roster of judges.
“They wanted to take down a judge,” Brady’s attorney, Timothy Smith, was quoted as saying in a Home News Tribune article.
Brady was previously represented by Walter Timpone, a powerful lawyer who Christie later named to the New Jersey Supreme Court.
Brady’s legal team has already succeeded in getting her official misconduct charge dismissed, leaving what Smith considers two “defective counts” of hindering apprehension.
“Even if the state’s version of the facts is true, it doesn’t rise to the level of hindering,” said Smith. “In order to hinder, you have to take affirmative steps to conceal somebody.”
Smith points to the case of Hayward Brooks, a corrections officer who was prosecuted in the very same county under a similar pretense that certain officials have an affirmative duty to help execute arrest warrants.
“We field an interlocutory appeal…. asking appelate court for leave to appeal,” explained Smith, saying that Brady’s case is still tied up in the courts.
Even if Brady beats the remaining two criminal charges, she may still face a subsequent judicial inquiry before she is allowed to return to the bench.
But for now, while her boyfriend awaits sentencing, Brady is awaiting the appeals court’s decision on whether or not they will intervene to rule on the case and avoid a trial in Somerset County Superior Court.
“We’re waiting to see if they’re going to hear [the interlocutory appeal],” said Smith.