NEW JERSEY — John Cramsey, a Pennsylvania-based, anti-heroin crusader who made national headlines for his gun bust at the Holland Tunnel in 2016, has agreed to a plea deal with New Jersey prosecutors.
The 51-year old Cramsey is expected to plead guilty Monday to one count of unlawful possession of a weapon, even though he was busted with a cache of nine loaded guns in his colorful truck, including a shotgun and assault rifle.
In exchange, prosecutors will ask the judge for a “Graves Act” waiver.
Under New Jersey law, Cramsey could have faced a maximum sentence of five years in prison for every loaded gun he was carrying.
That would add up to 45 years.
With this deal, Cramsey could face less than a year in jail and possibly receive probation.
Prosecutors originally offered Cramsey a plea deal in April that would have required him to serve 3 ½ years in prison.
But Cramsey found the offer unacceptable, especially since two, other occupants of the truck received pre-trial intervention approval, meaning they could avoid jail time.
Cramsey’s story captured massive attention in June 2016, because he said he was on his way to New York City to rescue a Pennsylvania teen who said she was trapped in a Brooklyn drug den.
The teen’s friend, 19-year-old Sierra Schmitt of Wilkes-Barre, was dead on the bed next to her from a fatal heroin overdose.
The 16-year-old, Jenea Patterson, had texted Kimberly Arendt in Pennsylvania, who once served as her camp counselor.
Arendt reached out to Cramsey, who had started an anti-drug crusade called “Enough is Enough.”
Cramsey’s 20-year-old daughter, Lexi — an aspiring model — fatally overdosed on a mixture of heroin and fentanyl in February 2016 — as the nation was reeling from a national opioid crisis.
After that, Cramsey started attending many “town hall” meetings in the Lehigh Valley area of Pennsylvania and began an aggressive style of intervention to get young addicts into treatment.
After serving several months in jail before making bail, Cramsey gave an exclusive interview to PIX11 last September inside his Pennsylvania gun range.
“The only person who’s going to judge me is God,” Cramsey said of his methods. “Whatever anyone in the world thinks about me, I’ll hold my head up high, knowing there are kids getting back with their parents.”
Cramsey had detractors in Pennsylvania, including former employees who were suing him for violating OSHA laws at the range.
But he had many parents hailing him as a hero for his anti-heroin efforts.
Cramsey contacted PIX11 in January 2017, when the teen he originally went to rescue, Jenea Patterson, fatally overdosed back in Pennsylvania.
Cramsey was legally allowed to carry loaded weapons in Pennsylvania, but once he travelled into New Jersey, it was illegal, under the Graves Act.
Sources familiar with the case told PIX11 there are “mitigating factors” that should make Cramsey eligible for a Graves Act waiver.
They point to his intervention work with troubled addicts and some health issues he’s developed.
Peter Willis, a prominent criminal defense attorney based in New Jersey, explained to PIX11 how a Graves Act waiver works.
“The waiver is a provision allowed in certain circumstances,” Willis said, “where a defendant has no prior criminal history.”
Willis continued. “You have to have the consent of the prosecutors. Then, you have to convince the presiding judge of the county to approve the waiver.”
“Under the waiver, you face a completely different situation,” Willis pointed out. “You can ask for full probation or less jail time. In Mr. Cramsey’s case, he’s already served a fairly lengthy sentence.”
Cramsey spent nearly three months in jail, before bail conditions were adjusted, and a friend posted bond for him.
Ironically, he was released before his two co-defendants, videographer Dean Smith, and Kimberly Arendt.
But Smith and Arendt received better offers from prosecutors to avoid jail time.