Christie Gives Full Gun Pardon to U.S. Marine
A 26-year-old U.S. Marine recruiter received a full pardon from Gov. Chris Christie Wednesday, clearing him of gun-related charges filed against him last Labor Day weekend in Bergen County.
Gov. Chris Christie today pardoned a U.S. Marine sergeant working as a recruiter in the early voting state of New Hampshire of all gun and ammunition charges filed against him in Bergen County last Labor Day weekend.
U.S. Marine Sgt. Joshua Velez, of Davers, Mass., is employed as a recruiter in both Boston and New Hampshire, an early voting state in which Christie, a GOP hopeful, is currently polling fourth, with 48 days to go before the state's Feb. 9, 2016 primary election.
The charges against Velez stem from an incident that took place on Sept. 5. The Marine was stopped by police in Bergen County when he failed to use a turn signal. During the course of an investigation, police found a Ruger 9MM handgun, belonging to Velez, in a locked glove compartment of his truck. A statement from the governor's office states that Velez "inadvertently" brought the gun to New Jersey.
"Velez, who lawfully purchased and is licensed to carry the handgun in Massachusetts, cooperated with the police and identified the location of his carry license and the ammunition, which he had stored separately in the vehicle," the statement from the governor's office reads. "Velez was arrested and charged with Unlawful Possession of a Handgun and Possession of Hollow Point Bullets in the State of New Jersey."
Laura Sutnick, an attorney representing Velez, said she and her client were grateful for the pardon.
"When I first spoke to Sgt. Velez upon his arrest, it was obvious to me that the facts of this case and the extraordinary circumstances of his career warranted more than just defending this case in the court system. Sgt Velez was a young man who had dedicated his life to serving and protecting this country, and upon his arrest he faced 10 years in New Jersey state prison," Stutnick said.
Velez marks the sixth time Christie has issued a pardon in 2015. According to NJ Advance Media, during an Iowa campaign stop in August, the governor vowed to pardon "out-of-state residents who became unwittingly ensnared in New Jersey's tough gun transport laws, and he soon made good on the promise."
The first three pardons took place between August and October and another took place in June. Then in April, Christie pardoned Shaneen Allen, the Philadelphia mother who was arrested for carrying a gun in New Jersey even though she was licensed in Pennsylvania.