UPDATE: A pair of ex-cons who led a six-town police chase from Paramus to Bogota that ended in gunfire were sentenced yesterday in Hackensack to prison terms in exchange for guilty pleas.
Getaway driver Franceso Piserchia got a plea-bargained 10-year sentence that will begin once he completes a five-year term that he’s currently serving for drug conspiracy, terroristic threats and eluding police in Bergen and Passaic counties. It expires in August 2015 if he isn’t granted parole before then.
“I didn’t take the best deal that was offered. I took it because I felt like it was fair,” Piserchia told the judge yesterday. “I knew I had to pay something for what I did, and I was willing to take my punishment for whatever I had to do.”
Meanwhile, Carlos Camacho, who ignited the chain of events when he broke into a Paramus house on Aug. 12, 2010, got three years. He could be released later this year, however.
Camacho is also due to be tried on armed robbery charges in Essex County, which were brought while he was out on bail for the Bergen County incident.
Piserchia — who led police on a high-speed chase from Paramus through Hackensack, Teaneck, and into Bogota, where he crashed into an embankment — told Presiding Superior Court Judge Liliana DeAvila-Silebi that he came from a world where “being tough, crazy and macho is a good thing.
“When this happened I was in a dark place, and I probably needed somebody to come help me,” he told the judge. “Even you said I didn’t have much control over myself when this case started.
“I think you see I’m different. This is not an act. I surrendered — to realize something is wrong. I think finally after all these years, I have finally started to mature emotionally. I don’t know if you see it, but I do.”
Defense attorney Michael DeBliss told CLIFFVIEW PILOT that he believes that Piserchia could be eligible for parole in as little as two years — and as many as 3½ — but that it’s “all based on conduct.”
“And because he is eligible for parole doesn’t mean he’ll be entitled to a parole hearing,” the lawyer added.
Assistant Bergen County Prosecutor Danielle Grootenboer convinced the judge to order that Piserchia begin serving his new sentence after the current one ends and not before.
“That type of mentality, that pattern of behavior, doesn’t go away overnight,” Grootenboer told DeAvila-Silebi. “That is who he is, that is who he always will be.
“I know there will come a day he’ll be released. I know there will be a woman who fancies him. And I will pray every day one of those women who fancies him doesn’t become one of my cases in Homicide.”
Piserchia admitted in court in December that he waited in the car while Camacho burglarized the Paramus house.
Although police were chasing him, he said, he wasn’t going to stop — adding that “maybe” he was under the influence of cocaine — and struck three other cars, injuring four people.
Tied in with the case were Piserchia’s guilty pleas to assaulting his girlfriend.
“She was my fiance,” he told the judge in December. “We were on the eve of being married, and I found out she was sleeping with one of my friends. After 17 years in prison, I don’t handle things very well. I put a belt to her throat and choked her.”
The chase that followed the burglary led to a shooting in which no one was struck and the acquittal of two Bergen County Police Department officers who were tried on charges of covering it up.
It began when a Forest Avenue resident returned home that afternoon and found a black SUV parked in her driveway with Piserchia behind the wheel. Suddenly, Camacho emerged from her house and got in.
The woman called Paramus police, who immediately responded and broadcast a description of the vehicle with a partial license plate. An hour later, a Paramus officer began chasing the SUV, broadcasting its location over the State Police Emergency Network (SPEN).
BCPD Officer Saheed Baksh joined the chase headed east on Route 4. Heavy traffic, combined with rain and the SUV’s “high speed and erratic driving conditions,” quickly made him the lead pursuer as the getaway vehicle exited off the highway into Teaneck.
In Bogota, the SUV was struck by a truck driven by a civilian. The SUV spun and collided with Baksh’s patrol car before continuing down Chestnut Avenue toward West Shore Avenue, authorities said.
At the bottom of the hill, where Chestnut intersects with West Shore, Piserchia turned left and pulled the SUV onto a grassy berm near some woods.
“Baksh continued straight and then onto the berm,” Bergen County Prosecutor John L. Molinelli later said.
Both men then bailed out and ran toward the woods, he said.
Baksh got out of his car, as well, pulled his Glock service weapon and fired two shots, the prosecutor said.
BCPD Officer Jeffrey Roberts, who also heard the SPEN transmission and joined the pursuit, was directly behind Baksh as he drove down Chestnut Avenue, Molinelli wrote in court papers. He quickly joined the chase, along with other officers who were converging on the area.
Piserchia and Camacho were quickly caught. They complained of “medical issues” and were taken to Hackensack University Medical Center.
Prosecutors later brought a case against the two county officers. In what was considered an unusual move, Molinelli himself testified during their trial.
Both returned to duty after their acquittals and their department handled the matter administratively.
STORY / PHOTOS: CLIFFVIEW PILOT Courthouse Reporter Mary K. Miraglia
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