23 Aug 2014
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Man Saw 'Death Race,' Reported it to Police

By alerting authorities to a state trooper-escorted caravan of sports cars, Madison man unwittingly became part of a national story.

John kennedy, a resident of nearby Madison, who was one of two motorists who reported a high-speed, apparently state trooper-escorted caravan of sports cars on the Garden State Parkway at the end March, did not intend to be part of a national story.

He just wanted authorities to be aware of what he saw.

"My intent was to inform the State Police of my observation and not to be in the paper or any other news media," Kennedy said in an email. "I respect and trust the State Police to take care of the situation."

But after his complaints were obtained by the Star-Ledger, Kennedy's name and report appeared in the newspaper's story about the caravan, dubbed "Death Race 2012" by Wayne Gantt, the other motorist who filed a complaint, according to the newspaper's report.

Since then, reporters have been reaching out to Kennedy, the Attorney General's Office has announced an investigation of the matter, a video of another 2010 trooper-escorted rally surfaced, and two troopers, Sgt. 1st Class Nadir Nassry of Phillipsburg and Trooper Joseph Ventrella of Bloomingdale, have been suspended without pay, according to an Attorney General's Office news release.

Nassry, 47, a trooper of 25 years, was assigned to Totowa Station. Ventrella, 28, a member of the force for six years, was assigned to the Troop B Tactical Patrol Unit, the Attorney General's Office said.

“We will not tolerate any conduct by a member of the State Police that puts the public in jeopardy, as this unauthorized caravan had the potential to do,” Attorney General Jeffrey S. Chiesa said. “We are thoroughly investigating this incident, and those responsible will face serious discipline. The mission of the New Jersey State Police is to ensure the safety and security of the people of New Jersey, and the overwhelming majority of troopers nobly and responsibly fulfill their duties. We will not let the acts of a few tarnish the entire force.”

The superintendent of the state police said such activity would not be tolerated.

“The acts indicated during the early stages of this investigation are squarely against the principles of the New Jersey State Police," the superintendent, Col. Joseph R. Fuentes, said. "As troopers, we cannot require the public to obey laws that we are not willing to uphold for everyone equally. I will not tolerate this egregious breach of public safety and those responsible will be held fully accountable."

The Attorney General’s Office and New Jersey State Police said they are investigating "the unauthorized escort by state troopers of a group of sports cars down the New Jersey Turnpike, Garden State Parkway and Atlantic City Expressway." No charges or summonses have been filed.

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