JERSEY CITY, N.J. — Hoping to avoid a trial and lengthy jail sentence, the Pennsylvania man busted at the Holland Tunnel in June 2016 with a souped-up truck full of loaded guns pleaded guilty Monday.
John Cramsey, 52, told Judge Mitzy Galis-Menendez he'd been ready to use a rifle in a Brooklyn heroin den, if anyone tried to stop him from saving a 16-year-old Pennsylvania girl who was stuck there.
Before his plea, there was a flurry of last-minute negotiating with prosecutors, with Cramsey demanding he get his truck back, even though his guns would be confiscated for good.
"That truck was as famous as O.J. Simpson's Bronco," Cramsey told PIX11 News. "I want my truck back. I could raffle it off and help kids in need."
The Pennsylvania teen, Jenea Patterson, had texted her former camp counselor Kimberly Arendt on June 21, 2016, that she'd woken up in bed in Brooklyn to find Sierra Schmitt, 19, of Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, dead beside her from a heroin overdose.
Arendt contacted John Cramsey, who had founded an anti-drug group called "Enough is Enough," after his 20-year-old daughter, Alexandria, had fatally overdosed on a mix of fentanyl and heroin in February 2016.
Cramsey was a gun range owner and recruited Arendt and videographer Dean Smith to make the trip to Brooklyn.
But Cramsey's colorful green and black truck was pulled over on the Jersey City side of the Holland Tunnel before it could get to New York. Police pointed out the truck had a cracked windshield.
Inside the truck, police found five loaded handguns, an assault rifle, a shotgun, and about 2,000 rounds of ammunition along with a small amount of marijuana and several prescription painkillers. Cramsey could have legally travelled around Pennsylvania with the guns because he had a permit, but it was a serious violation of the Graves Act in New Jersey.
Cramsey and his co-defendants spent several months in jail, before they were released on adjusted bail packages.
Cramsey's lawyer is upset that Arendt and Smith were approved for a pre-trial intervention program, which likely allows them to avoid more jail time. It's still unclear where Cramsey will end up.
Cramsey pleaded guilty Monday to one count of unlawful possession of a weapon and one count of unlawful purpose, which referred to his willingness to use the rifle if he had a problem in Brooklyn.
The agreement with prosecutors calls for him to receive no more than a year in jail when he's sentenced Sept. 22. But Cramsey's attorney, James Lisa, will appeal to Hudson County's top judge for probation.
Lisa told PIX11 there are mitigating factors that should make Cramsey eligible for probation, saying Cramsey has medical issues and continued doing good work in the community getting addicted teens into treatment.
Cramsey was not able to save the teen he originally went to help from the fatal scourge of her addiction.
Jenea Patterson died from an overdose in early 2017 in Pennsylvania.
"I went to her funeral," Cramsey told PIX11 outside court Monday. "I got to meet her family. It's a tragedy. It's the one that got away from me. I ask myself 'What if I had gotten to her?' all the time. It's never going to change what it is."