Egg Harbor Township husband and wife plead guilty to possession of cocaine and assault weapon

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Submitted/Donald Capriotti, 40, of Egg Harbor Township Submitted/Donald Capriotti, 40, of Egg Harbor Township

Donald Capriotti faces an 18-year prison sentence

TRENTON –An Egg Harbor Township couple pleaded guilty to drug and weapons charges Tuesday, March 4 before Superior Court Judge Michael A. Donio in Atlantic County, acting Attorney General John J. Hoffman announced.

The charges stemmed from an investigation by the Atlantic City Violent Crime Task Force that resulted in the seizure of a large quantity of cocaine and an assault weapon from the couple’s Robin Road residence in January 2013.

Donald Capriotti, aka Donald Gardner, 40, pleaded guilty to first-degree possession of cocaine with intent to distribute and possession of an assault firearm during the commission of a narcotics offense. Those charges were contained in a June 2013 state grand jury indictment. He also pleaded guilty to third-degree charges of eluding police and drug possession, which were contained in an Atlantic County grand jury indictment.

The state will recommend that Capriotti be sentenced to 18 years in state prison with 10 years of parole ineligibility, on the first-degree narcotics charge. He faces a concurrent sentence of five years with three years of parole ineligibility on the gun charge, and concurrent four-year prison sentences on each of the county charges.

Capriotti’s wife, Chinyere Gardner, 33, pleaded guilty to first-degree possession of cocaine with intent to distribute. The state will recommend that she be sentenced to seven years in state prison.

Sentencing for both defendants is scheduled for May 2.

Deputy Attorney General James Ruberton of the Division of Criminal Justice and Assistant Prosecutor Erik Bergman of the Atlantic County Prosecutor’s Office prosecuted the case and took the guilty pleas. Detective Jason Dorn of the Atlantic County Prosecutor’s Office conducted the investigation.

Members of the Atlantic City Violent Crime Task Force executed a search warrant Jan. 25, 2013 at the couple’s residence as a result of an ongoing drug investigation. Police said they found an Intratec TEC 9 assault firearm loaded with a large-capacity magazine housing 13 rounds of ammunition, and a loaded sawed-off shotgun with the serial number defaced.

Investigators found more than six ounces of cocaine, 2.6 ounces of marijuana, and just under one-half ounce of heroin. The cocaine and heroin were packaged in small bags for individual sale. Digital scales and packaging materials were also seized.

Because Capriotti has a prior aggravated manslaughter conviction, investigators obtained a “no knock” search warrant and forced entry into the residence. Both defendants were home, and Capriotti resisted arrest, running toward an area of the house where the shotgun was found. The shotgun had both the barrel and the wood stock shortened so it could fit in the sleeve of a sweatshirt or jacket, authorities said.

Capriotti is also facing charges from another unrelated incident, including unlawful possession of a handgun, possession of a defaced firearm, conspiring with another to possess with the intent to distribute cocaine and heroin and conspiring with another to possess with the intent to distribute cocaine and heroin in excess of one-half ounce that stemmed from a lengthy and ongoing drug distribution investigation by detectives from the Egg Harbor Township Police Department Criminal Investigations Bureau and members of the Atlantic City Task Force Street Gang Unit.

On Nov. 7, Capriotti was charged also with second degree aggravated assault, second degree eluding and third degree aggravated assault after a manhunt that resulted in him being shot multiple times. 

Read More: 

Egg Harbor Township woman arrested on drug and gun charges in West Atlantic City

UPDATE: Suspect in critial condition from shooting as police search for gun


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