Teen admits dealing LSD
April 6, 2006 - njherald.com
NEWTON — A Vernon teenager will face 10 years in state prison next month after pleading guilty Monday to dealing a large amount of the hallucinogen LSD to an undercover narcotics officer last year.
Anthony Versace, 19, could have faced as much as 20 years in prison on the distribution offense, which involved more than 100 milligrams of LSD and was committed in a school zone. A diminutive youth who wore glasses and walked with the aid of crutches, Versace at first seemed ready to reject the state's plea offer, which would bring the case before a grand jury.
But Assistant Prosecutor Tom Reed, speaking on the record in court, convinced the youth that the offer — 10 years in custody with three years of parole ineligibility — was at the low extreme, and the sentence if he was indicted and found guilty at trial would likely be quite a bit higher.
"This is the best offer he's ever going to get," Reed said, citing mandatory guidelines that govern that type of drug case.
After taking more time to speak with his lawyer and his mother, Versace decided to accept the plea deal.
While waiting at the defense table for the judge to enter the courtroom, the defendant could be heard saying to his lawyer, "So robbing somebody or attempted murder, that's just as bad as dealing some drugs?"
While entering the plea, Versace admitted to an Oct. 21 drug transaction between himself and an informer for the Sussex County Narcotics Task Force.
"You sold him 30 hits of blotter acid, right?" Reed asked him.
"It was 24 hits cut into 30 hits," the defendant replied.
"Blotter acid" is shorthand for LSD, a clear liquid, embedded in blotter paper. In New Jersey, the paper is counted when determining the weight, Reed said.
Versace and a co-defendant, 20-year-old Randall Bucsko, also of Vernon, were arrested on first-degree acid-dealing charges in November. Bucsko pleaded guilty last month, also in exchange for a 10-year sentence.
Judge Thomas Critchley Jr. set Versace's sentencing for May 19.