Armed man arrested on drug 'rescue' trip to seek pardon

By David Porter, Associated Press | Posted - Mar. 17, 2017 at 1:58 p.m.

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JERSEY CITY, N.J. (AP) — A self-styled anti-drug crusader who was arrested on weapons charges during a purported rescue trip to save a teenage drug user will seek a pardon from New Jersey's governor, his attorney said Friday.

John Cramsey, of Zionsville, Pennsylvania, and two associates were arrested in his neon-painted pickup truck emblazoned with logos from the gun range he operates. Police said the truck was carrying weapons including a semi-automatic military-style rifle, a shotgun and five handguns, along with other tactical gear.

Prior to his arrest, Cramsey had posted on Facebook that he was heading to New York to "rescue" a teenager whose friend had just overdosed.

Cramsey's attorney James Lisa said Friday he believed Gov. Chris Christie's sensitivity to the opioid addiction crisis could lead him to consider a pardon. The Republican recently signed legislation curbing initial opioid prescriptions to a five-day supply, making New Jersey's the most stringent limit in the country.

"Mr. Cramsey is obviously working hard and doing his best to stamp out drug addiction. That was the whole purpose of this trip," Lisa said.

A Christie spokesman said the office doesn't comment on individual pardon applications.

Cramsey started an anti-drug group after the overdose death of his daughter about a year ago. Fellow group members have said he went into homes and hotels to get people out of people of dangerous situations.

Cramsey and co-defendants Dean Smith, of Whitehall, Pennsylvania, and Kimberly Arendt, of Lehighton, Pennsylvania, were stopped in June in Jersey City as they prepared to enter the Holland Tunnel, which carries traffic into New York City.

A police officer stopped the vehicle because it had a crack on the windshield, according to a criminal complaint.

The defendants say they believe the windshield problem was a pretense and that they were actually stopped because of the truck's Second Amendment-themed decorations.

Cramsey also could benefit from Christie's views on gun rights.

New Jersey has more stringent gun laws than Pennsylvania. It doesn't recognize carry permits from other states, and guns in cars must be kept locked and unloaded in a trunk or secure container.

The governor is locked in a disagreement with the Democratic-led Legislature over his attempt to loosen the state's firearm permit rules. Democrats have expressed concern the governor's move could lead to more concealed-carry permits

Last summer, Christie pardoned an Army captain who faced criminal charges for leaving a gun behind at a hotel in New Jersey. Robert White had been traveling from Virginia to New Hampshire with his girlfriend, according to his attorney.

Cramsey's had asked to enter into a pretrial intervention program and avoid jail time. A judge denied the request.

On Friday, the judge denied Cramsey's appeal of that decision. Lisa said he planned to next appeal to a higher level court.

The teen being targeted by the June "rescue" later died of an apparent drug overdose.

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David Porter


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