New Jersey removed two state troopers from active duty amid investigations into a high-speed caravan of Porsches, Lamborghinis and Ferraris led by police cruisers on the Garden State Parkway last month.
Sgt. First Class Nadir Nassry, 47, and Trooper Joseph Ventrella, 28, were suspended without pay, Attorney General Jeffrey Chiesa said Monday. Additionally, state police said a previous escort is under investigation.
"We're going to put the entire State Police and everybody in the state who's ever requested this sort of stuff on trial," said Charles Sciarra, a lawyer who represents Nassry. Sciarra said escorts are routinely provided for funerals, public figures and groups that travel together.
Motorists reported two cruisers on March 30 leading a pack of sports cars in a "Death Race" convoy at speeds of 100 mph toward Atlantic City, according to complaints filed with the New Jersey Turnpike Authority.
The drivers' complaints said two cruisers led the sports cars past them. The cars were weaving in and out of traffic, almost forcing some vehicles off the road, according to one of the statements.
"The state is very lucky no one was killed today," Wayne Gantt, of Little Egg Harbor, said in one of the written complaints to the agency that runs the toll road.
"It shouldn't have happened; it was a dumb thing to do," Gov. Chris Christie said Monday. "Those people who made this mistake should be held accountable for it, and I'm sure they will."
"I had the great pleasure today of nearly being killed by, not one, but two, Lamborghinis traveling in excess of 110 mph in a NJSP-escorted caravan of approximately 30 exotic vehicles all traveling well over 100 mph," Gantt said in his complaint.
Gantt dubbed the incident "Death Race 2012" in his complaint.
The State Police cruisers had their lights flashing, and the sports cars had their registration plates taped over, according to the complaint from the other driver, John W. Kennedy, who said they passed him between 10 a.m. and 11 a.m.
Former New York Giants football player Brandon Jacobs, 29, was among the group, according to the Newark Star-Ledger, which cited but did not name a person with knowledge of the trip.
"Yes, he went down to Atlantic City in a group that included a police escort," Justin Schulman, Jacobs's Irvine, Calif.- based agent representative, said Monday by telephone. "I don't know, nor does he know, if that was his caravan."
Nassry knows Jacobs from charity work, Sciarra said. Jacobs contacted the trooper to request an escort for the drivers, who were heading to the seaside resort to discuss raising money for their next cause, Sciarra said Monday.
"Jacobs is a guy who feels blessed and wants to give back," the lawyer said. "So he calls him up and says, 'Look, we're going to get together with some guys. Could you give us an escort?' "
"Why the escort? You get pretenders who want to come in," Sciarra said. "You have guys doing charitable work and they don't want to get rear-ended."
"We will not tolerate any conduct by a member of the State Police that puts the public in jeopardy, as this unauthorized caravan had the potential to do," Chiesa said.
Christie said the new investigation left him chagrined.
"I just shook my head, but what are you going to do?" he said. "It's a completely ridiculous story."