ONLY ON CLIFFVIEW PILOT: It looks like human crime wave Melvin Collins — a man with 60 indictments on his record — is headed to trial in Bergen County once again.
A status conference that Presiding Superior Court Judge Liliana DeAvila-Silebi ( above ) expected would include a mutually agreeable plea offer was scuttled late yesterday in Hackensack after Assistant Bergen County Prosecutor David Calviello said that a plea offer of 16 years in prison — including eight years before Collins would be eligible for parole — had expired a year ago.
The thing is: Colllins, a 46-year-old habitual offender from Teaneck, was sentenced to 12 years in prison, with parole eligibility after four, on a variety of convictions just 2½ weeks ago.
Adding eight more years — even if he was paroled — would mean that both of his parents would certainly die while he is behind bars, Collins told DeAvila-Silebi.
“You’re facing two indictments,” DeAvila-Silebi responded. “You could serve the rest of your life in prison [if convicted].”
The judge then tried a bit of bargaining herself, suggesting a 15-year term with parole eligibility after five years.
Collins wasn’t budging, however.
Neither was Calviello, who said prosecutors are “looking for a minimum of eight” years without parole.
“OK, then we’ll give you a trial date,” DeAvila-Silebi responded.
That would be June 3.
STORY / PHOTOS: Mary K. Miraglia, CLIFFVIEW PILOT Courthouse Reporter
Calviello noted that the original “16-and-8” offer expired after Collins was charged and convicted of several other crimes. He also has 27 months of jail credit for time spent behind bars while awaiting trial, which would be deducted from any potential sentence, the prosecutor said.
“Ww’d like to resolve the case,” Calviello told the judge, “but there has to be a mutual benefit.”
Collins, who blamed a gambling compulsion, told Superior Court Judge James J. Guida earlier this monoth that he’d stayed clean for several years after getting out of jail ( SEE: Teaneck human crime wave gets 12 years — with parole after four ).
However, he fell back into gambling and supporting his habit through crime, he said.
Collins told Guida that he’d undergone another change for the better.
But the judge said: “There’s not just a risk of committing another offense: It’s a virtual certainty.”
During that proceeding, Assistant Bergen County Prosecutor Natalie Candela recited a criminal history that includes burglaries, thefts, armed robberies, resisting arrest, illegal weapons possession and five separate aggravated assaults on corrections officers.
“How many chances can a person get?” Candela asked. “Once he was paroled, he was given an ankle bracelet, he cut it off and went to North Carolina.”
Police established a task force to monitor Collins’ activities because they believed he was “active” again, and he was arrested after two high-speed chases.
“The risk to offend is not a possibility — it’s an absolute guarantee,” Candela said.
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