NEWTON — An inmate freed under New Jersey's pandemic early-release law was arrested within hours and charged with dealing drugs.

Leighton Brown, 42, was released from parole supervision on Nov. 4. Later that same day, Brown was taken into custody by Newton police and the Sussex County Narcotics Task Force at a residence on Halsted Street.

Brown was charged with third-degree counts of distribution of heroin and cocaine and third-degree charge of dealing within 1,000 feet of a school zone.

Brown previously was sentenced to prison in 2013 after being convicted of aggravated assault and second-degree manufacturing or possession with intent to deal cocaine/heroin in 2010. A separate drug charge involving heroin was dismissed, according to court records.

The law signed by Gov. Phil Murphy in October called for a four-month credit to be applied for each month served during a pandemic, capped at eight months.

That means that inmates offered the pandemic credit for early release from prison were “maxing out” and coming home within the year anyway, American Civil Liberties Union of New Jersey policy director, Sarah Fajardo, previously told New Jersey 101.5.

People convicted of violent crimes, including first-degree murder and aggravated sexual assault, or repetitive and compulsive sex offenders are not eligible for early release.

Brown was being held at Morris County Jail on Thursday.

The governor's office declined to comment on the situation when asked about it Thursday.

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