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Garfield car burglar complains to judge, then takes plea deal

Photo Credit: CLIFFVIEW PILOT Courthouse Reporter Mary K. Miraglia

REVOLVING DOOR: “I got to wait another month and a half?” a Passaic man asked a judge in Hackensack after pleading guilty to a Garfield car burglary in exchange for three years in prison — and a possible parole without serving a single day there when he’s sentenced in January.

Jaquis T. Cooper, 29, had already threatened to blow up the plea deal — even though a prosecutor agreed to drop several other charges of burglary, theft and other offenses and let him plead guilty to a single count of breaking into a 2002 Ford Econoline van to steal it.

“Sending me to prison, third time, it’s not helping me,” Cooper told Superior Court Judge Edward A. Jerejian.

He also said he “was not satisfied” with his lawyer’s work.

In the end, Cooper decided it better to accept the offer from Assistant Bergen County Prosecutor Yomaro Castro than to risk a possible five years or more behind bars if he were found guilty at a trial.

Jerejian said Cooper could take his chances with a jury on all the counts in an indictment stemming from his Feb. 23 arrest.

However, the judge also told him “you have an extensive record and any charge you pick up from here on in, it’s a prison term.”

With Cooper’s rap sheet, it could be considerably more than five years, Jerejian added.

That record includes seven recent indictments in Passaic County, three of which were downgraded to municipal offenses. Cooper has pleaded guilty to assault, three separate narcotics offenses and obstruction in addition to yesterday’s plea to a single offense in Garfield.

Defense attorney Ednin Martinez cited what she called “possible weaknesses” in the prosecutor’s case. However, she said she also discussed with Cooper “the downside if we go to trial.”

In the end, the nine months he’s spent at the Bergen County Jail will be applied to his sentence, meaning Cooper is already eligible for parole.

There was only one catch: While accepting the plea, the judge set a Jan. 16 sentencing date.

To which Cooper responded: “I got to wait another month and a half?”

STORY / PHOTO: CLIFFVIEW PILOT Courthouse Reporter Mary K. Miraglia

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