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Quick verdict in 16 pounds of pot case out of Paramus

Photo Credit: Mary K. Miraglia, CLIFFVIEW PILOT Courthouse Reporter

ONLY ON CLIFFVIEW PILOT: Jurors in Hackensack needed less than a day’s worth of deliberations to convict a Florida man today of bringing 16 pounds of marijuana to a Paramus restaurant parking lot for sale to a buyer who turned out to be an undercover detective.

In a case where the evidence — more than a dozen shrink-wrapped bricks of pot — were displayed in the courtroom, a defense attorney for Yordanis Reyes argued that his client ended up at the Chili’s Restaurant at the Garden State Plaza in Paramus by accident on March 30, 2012.

The lawyer, Sam DeLuca, tried pinning the rap on a man whom Reyes had done business with transporting cement and vehicles: co-defendant Alejandro Barcena.

Jurors weren’t buying it, however.

Barcena has already pleaded guilty to marijuana possession with the intent to distribute the drug. Prosecutors have recommended a five-year prison sentence in exchange for his cooperation in testifying during the trial against Reyes.

Superior Court Judge Patrick J. Roma revoked Reyes’ bail and  ordered him taken to the Bergen County Jail to await an Aug. 9 sentencing.

The undercover officer testified yesterday that he showed Reyes $1,300 of “flash” money, then put it in a car that was quickly driven away by a colleague “to show they would have to deliver the drugs to get the money.”

It was a dangerous situation, “given the amount of drugs and money involved, and the fact I didn’t really know Reyes,” said the investigator (whose identity is being wittheld by CLIFFVIEW PILOT ). He testified that he’d arranged in advance for enough officers to be available “so the arrest could be made as soon as the marijuana was revealed.”

When he got to Chili’s, the investigator said, he pointed at Barcena and asked Reyes, “Who is that?”

He said he then asked: “Can I see the marijuana?”

Instead of completing the agreed-upon $60,000 deal for the shrink-wrapped bricks, Reyes, Barcena and the detective were seized by several officers, protecting the investigator’s cover.

DeLuca insisted that Barcena struck the deal with the undercover cop, and that Reyes — of Homestead, Florida — never got out of the car that day.

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

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