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TRENTON, N.J. – A Newark, New Jersey, man was sentenced today to 148 months in prison for his role in an armed carjacking and subsequent involvement in a scheme to bribe a corrections officer to smuggle contraband, including marijuana and cell phones, into the Essex County Correctional Facility, a federal pretrial detention facility, U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman announced.
Quasim Nichols, 30, previously pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Mary L. Cooper to an information charging him with one count of committing an armed carjacking and one count of conspiring with others, including Essex County Corrections Officer Stephon Solomon, 27, of Irvington, New Jersey, to commit extortion under color of official right. Judge Cooper imposed the sentence today in Trenton federal court.
According to the documents filed in this case, other cases, and statements made in court:
On May 28, 2012, Nichols and three men were traveling in a gray Dodge Magnum toward Elizabeth, New Jersey. Nichols was driving the vehicle. Upon arriving in Elizabeth, the three men exited the car and approached a 2005 BMW 645. The men pointed handguns in the direction of the BMW’s passengers and ordered them out of the car. Two of the men then entered the BMW and drove it away. The third man re-entered the Dodge Magnum driven by Nichols. The third man was carrying a black Taurus Millennium semi-automatic handgun and a cell phone that had been stolen from one of the occupants of the BMW. Nichols and the third man drove away and followed the stolen BMW.
While driving away from the scene, multiple police vehicles activated their overhead lights and turned on their sirens in an effort to stop Nichols. Nichols continued to drive the Dodge Magnum at a high rate of speed from Elizabeth into Newark, drove through a red light and struck a vehicle at the intersection of Martin Luther King Boulevard and Market Street. The driver of the other vehicle suffered serious injury. Nichols and the other man then attempted to flee the area on foot.
Subsequently, while detained at the Essex County Correctional Facility on the armed carjacking charge, Nichols conspired with others, including Solomon, Dwayne Harper, 31, of Newark, and Darsell Davis, 29, of Newark, to pay cash bribes to Solomon so that he would smuggle contraband – including cell phones, tobacco, and marijuana – into the Essex County Correctional Facility. After Davis and Harper collected the contraband, Davis delivered the items and cash bribes to Solomon, who then smuggled the contraband to Nichols. Nichols ultimately sold the marijuana and cell phones to other inmates. The inmates purchasing marijuana and cell phones had their friends and family pay for the items by sending Western Union money transfers to Nichols, who enlisted Davis and others to retrieve those payments. Davis obtained at least $4,300 in Western Union payments for Nichols.
In addition to the prison term, Judge Cooper sentenced Nichols to serve five years of supervised release.
Solomon pleaded guilty to conspiring to commit extortion under color of official right and was sentenced to 18 months in prison on March 25, 2015. Davis pleaded guilty to conspiring to commit extortion under color of official right and was sentenced to 15 months in prison on March 23, 2015. Harper pleaded guilty to conspiring to smuggle marijuana into the Essex County Correctional Facility and was sentenced to 12 months in prison on March 23, 2015.
U.S. Attorney Fishman credited special agents of the FBI, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Richard M. Frankel in Newark; investigators with the Internal Affairs Division of Essex County Correctional Facility, under the leadership of Warden Roy Hendricks; the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey; the Newark Police Department, under the direction of Director Eugene Venable and Chief Anthony Campos; and the Elizabeth Police Department, under the direction of Director James Cosgrove, with the investigation leading to today’s sentencing.
The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Jim Donnelly and Rob Frazer of the Criminal Division, Organized Crime/Gangs Unit, and Rahul Agarwal of the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Special Prosecutions Division, in Newark.
Defense counsel: Michael J. Pappa Esq., Hazlet, New Jersey