EXCLUSIVE: An Albanian woman who thought she was headed to prison for driving a Wallington fugitive to Florida after he shot a man outside a Garfield bar was spared time behind bars yesterday.
Christina Hamdan, 30, eventually helped authorities catch Melsi Pajo before he could hop a boat out of the country to his native Albania, Superior Court Judge Patrick J. Roma noted in sentencing her to probation.
Also receiving probation were fellow Albanians Eno Cami and Petrit Agastra, who hid Pajo in their houses before he and Hamdan headed south. A fourth defendant, Ervin Keco, will be sentenced next Friday because his attorney couldn’t make court.
Pajo went on the lam after shooting Lukasz Goralczyk at the Zoom Pub in Wallington in June 2011. He was sentenced last month to 13 years in prison.
Pajo got into an argument with Goralczyk, 29, after the two met at the bar. He then went home, retrieved an unlicensed pistol and shot the victim in the chest as Goralczyk and two friends approached him with baseball bats ( SEE: Garfield Albanian immigrant gets 13 years for shooting man in chest after bar fight ).
Goralczyk, who underwent emergency surgery at Hackensack University Medical Center, still carries the bullet in his chest, Assistant Bergen County Prosecutor Danielle Grootenboer said.
Pajo fled after the shooting, ditched the gun and went from one to another of several friends’ homes, hiding out, before Hamdan gave him the ride to Jacksonville.
Investigators tracked him to the Tampa area, where he was staying with friends from high school. The detectives called in U.S. marshals, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement and the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office.
They then grabbed Pajo as he walked out of Frank & Freddy’s Pizza in Riverview, Fla., on July 25, 2011 — as CLIFFVIEW PILOT was the first to report: Bergen detectives grab Garfield gunman on the run from attempted murder charges .
Agasta told Superior Court Judge Patrick J. Roma yesterday: “I know what I did was a mistake. It will never happen again.”
Hamdan’s attorney, John Bruno, spoke for her: “My client is very, very sorry for what she did.”
Bruno emphasized that Hamdan’s cooperation was what enabled police to grab Pajo before he skipped.
Hamdan had agreed to a two-year prison sentence. However, Roma said: “She did participate in the investigation and helped bring Pajo to justice.”
Also charged was Blerim Kozici, who authorities said fled to his native Albania after the shooting and was arrested soon after he returned to the U.S. He was admitted to Pre-Trial Intervention.
STORY / PHOTOS: Mary K. Miraglia, CLIFFVIEW PILOT Courthouse Reporter
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