Superior Court judge Carlia Brady, 41, is to stand trial for “knowingly harbor[ing]” a fugitive charged with armed robbery in her Woodbridge home and never calling the police. She was arrested on Tuesday and charged two counts of hindering the apprehension of Jason Prontnicki, 41.
Prontnicki alleged entered a pharmacy with a crowbar and demanded drugs. He is charged with robbing the Old Bridge pharmacy on April 29 and was arrested at Brady’s home. Police say that they two had been dating and that Prontnicki was at Brady’s house for an hour.
Police say that Brady knew that Prontnicki was a fugitive and she could now face up to 10 years in prison if convicted of the second-degree offense.
Brady, who is the first Filipino-American appointed judge in New Jersey, was suspended from her $165,000-a-year job after her arrest.
Notably, the New Jersey law provides for mitigation for a relation in such charges, but that would not apply to an alleged boyfriend:
2C:29-3 Hindering Apprehension or Prosecution
a. A person commits an offense if, with purpose to hinder the detention, apprehension, investigation, prosecution, conviction or punishment of another for an offense or violation of Title 39 of the New Jersey Statutes or a violation of chapter 33A of Title 17 of the Revised Statutes he:
(1)Harbors or conceals the other;
(2)Provides or aids in providing a weapon, money, transportation, disguise or other means of avoiding discovery or apprehension or effecting escape;
(3)Suppresses, by way of concealment or destruction, any evidence of the crime, or tampers with a witness, informant, document or other source of information, regardless of its admissibility in evidence, which might aid in the discovery or apprehension of such person or in the lodging of a charge against him;
(4)Warns the other of impending discovery or apprehension, except that this paragraph does not apply to a warning given in connection with an effort to bring another into compliance with law;
(5)Prevents or obstructs, by means of force, intimidation or deception, anyone from performing an act which might aid in the discovery or apprehension of such person or in the lodging of a charge against him;
(6)Aids such person to protect or expeditiously profit from an advantage derived from such crime; or
(7)Gives false information to a law enforcement officer or a civil State investigator assigned to the Office of the Insurance Fraud Prosecutor established by section 32 of P.L. 1998, c.21 (C. 17: 33A-16).
The offense is a crime of the third degree if the conduct which the actor knows has been charged or is liable to be charged against the person aided would constitute a crime of the second degree or greater, unless the actor is a spouse, parent or child of the person aided, in which case the offense is a crime of the fourth degree. The offense is a crime of the fourth degree if such conduct would constitute a crime of the third degree. Otherwise it is a disorderly persons offense.
I have some question about these charges. This type of charge is rare. First, there is no duty to call police that can be criminally imposed on citizens. It is the harboring that is the crux of the charge. The failure to call police reinforces the claim that this was an intentional effort to hide the man. However, it was only an hour. It is not clear what Brady knew. An hour is not a particularly long time. Faced with a fugitive, even a boyfriend, would lead most people not to attempt a call in his presence. Moreover, assuming that he told her about the crime, it would take some time to do so. She may have asked him to leave. Indeed, it is not clear if he was arrested in the home or on his way out.
This would seem a case that favors the defense unless there is any additional evidence of assistance or an attempt to conceal the suspect.
Steve Kaflowitz, counsel for Judge Brady, has reached out to me with the following update on the aftermath of this story:
“For your information, she was eventually indicted for two counts of hindering and one count of official misconduct. The official misconduct charge was dismissed as legally insufficient. See State v. Brady, 452 N.J. Super.143 (App. Div. 2017). On March 1, 2018, the hindering counts were dropped on the State’s motion. The State recognized that with the ex-boyfriend refusing to testify, by invoking his Fifth Amendment privilege, it didn’t have a sufficient case to go to trial. The ex-boyfriend’s invocation of his Fifth was based on the fact that his appeal of his robbery conviction was pending. Thus, any testimony he might give as to Brady hindering his apprehension for that warrant would be consciousness-of-guilt evidence as far as he was concerned. Rest assured, our defense team was confident that even if the ex-boyfriend had testified, Brady would have been found not guilty because of the tissue-thin proofs. Of most importance, he would have testified (consistent with his multiple taped statements to the police on the day that Brady was arrested) that at all times during his interactions with her after she had learned of the existence of a warrant for him, he had assured to her that he intended to turn himself in once he had obtained a lawyer. He also would have testified (again, consistent with his statements) that she had insisted that he do just that and that they have nothing to do with each other until after he had straightened out his legal problems.”