SUMMER JOB WAS GOING FINE UNTIL ARREST AS COKE 'DEALER'
As a summer intern in the criminal drug division in Superior Court in Bergen County, West New York's Yoel Cajiga was supposed to learn about the legal system.
He ended up on the other side of the bench.
Cajiga, 21, a student at Fairleigh Dickinson University's campus in Teaneck, was charged yesterday with distributing more than 10 ounces of cocaine to undercover officers in June and August. He faces more than 30 years in prison if convicted.
Authorities also said they found cocaine in Cajiga's home in West New York.
"We were surprised," Superior Court Administrator Jon Goodman said. He said the court does criminal background checks for all summer interns and the one done on Cajiga showed he had no prior record.
Cajiga's lawyer, John Kotz of Clifton, said his client is a "very all-American" young man who is the sole caretaker of his elderly grandfather. He said Cajiga is going to plead not guilty and intends to pursue an entrapment defense.
"There was a constant pressure on behalf of the investigators for my client to provide them with 300 grams," Kotz said. "If not for their actions, my client was not predisposed to engage in the trafficking of narcotics to such a size and degree."
Cajiga was charged with distributing one ounce of cocaine on June 24, two ounces on June 28 and a little more than a half-pound on Aug. 5, near the Thomas Bassano Lakeview Field in Little Ferry, Bergen County Prosecutor John Molinelli said.
Selling more than five ounces of a controlled substance is a first-degree crime in New Jersey, carrying a penalty of up to 30 years in prison.
Cajiga was one of about 20 interns working in various offices of the Superior Court in Hackensack for the summer. Interns typically do filing work, Goodman said.
The prosecutor's office seized a computer from the offices of Judge Lois Lipton, for whom Cajiga worked, though officials did not say whether Cajiga had access to criminal and court records.
"We're trying to give them something that's a rewarding experience,"
Goodman said, referring to the interns. "I don't believe he had any access to any of our systems. We have to assign them an ID number and we don't assign (identification) numbers to interns."
Cajiga was being at the Bergen County Jail in Hackensack in lieu of $100,000 at the Bergen County jail last night.