NEW YORK (Reuters) – A Pennsylvania man arrested last June on the New Jersey side of the Holland Tunnel with an arsenal of guns in his truck pleaded guilty to two weapons-related charges in a deal with prosecutors, his attorney said on Monday.
John Cramsey, 52, of Zionsville, Pennsylvania, entered the pleas at Hudson County Superior Court in Jersey City, New Jersey, in exchange for a recommendation that he become eligible for parole after one year in prison, according to his attorney, James Lisa.
The case stems from an incident last June when police arrested Cramsey and two other suspects who said they were en route to rescue a teen from a drug house in New York’s Brooklyn borough.
The police had pulled over the trio’s truck for a cracked windshield at the toll plaza at the tunnel, a major thoroughfare under the Hudson River into New York City.
Searching the truck, which was covered with stickers supporting gun rights, police found five pistols, an AR-15 assault rifle and a .12 gauge shotgun, as well as knives, body armor, camouflage gear and ammunition.
The discovery, coming a week after a gunman inspired by Islamic militants killed 49 people at an Orlando, Florida, nightclub, immediately raised concerns about the intentions of the three. The Holland Tunnel incident led to the closure of the tunnel for several hours.
“From a moral perspective, I think he’s a hero,” Cramsey’s lawyer, Lisa, said in a telephone interview on Monday. “He tried to do something a lot of people wish they had the courage to do.”
“From a legal perspective he was guilty,” Lisa added.
“I wish we could have come up with a more favorable ending, but I do think we have a reasonable solution.”
The person the trio attempted to save, 18-year-old Jenea Patterson of Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, later died of a drug overdose.
Following his own 20-year-old daughter’s fatal drug overdose in February 2016, Cramsey dedicated himself to being an anti-heroin activist according to nj.com.
Two other defendants, Kimberly Arendt and Dean Smith, pleaded not guilty in October in a Jersey City court to 63 gun-related charges.
Smith and Arendt entered a pretrial intervention program that could lead prosecutors to drop the charges against them, according to Hudson County Prosecutor’s Office. Cramsey was denied entry into the same program.
Under New Jersey law, Cramsey could serve up to five years on each count. Cramsey’s sentencing is scheduled for Sept. 22.
Editing by Frank McGurty and Matthew Lewis