WOODBURY A Superior Court judge on Friday rejected a plea by a Washington Township police officer to dismiss an indictment charging him with misconduct, falsifying records, and other offenses in the 2012 traffic stop of a state assemblyman.
Joseph DiBuonaventura's attorney, Louis M. Barbone, argued that the indictment against his client should be dismissed because grand jurors were not given certain evidence and answers to questions that the defense said would have given them a more complete snapshot of what occurred during the stop nearly two years ago.
Barbone called the prosecutor's relaying of facts to the grand jury a "very, very surgically focused" presentation that did not offer the whole story.
Assemblyman Paul D. Moriarty's car was stopped in July 2012 on the Black Horse Pike in Turnersville shortly after he left a Nissan dealership. DiBuonaventura's police report said Moriarty cut him off - a claim later refuted by video footage recorded by the officer's patrol car camera.
A grand jury charged DiBuonaventura last year in connection with the stop. Charges against Moriarty (D., Gloucester) - including driving while intoxicated, because he declined to take a breath test, and driving on marked lanes - were dropped.
Moriarty, who appeared to pass field sobriety tests at the time, maintained that he had not been drinking, and has said he declined to take the test because the unwarranted stop eroded his trust in the process.
Barbone argued that certain evidence - including interviews that indicated DiBuonaventura was acting on information he had received from other officers - was not given to the grand jury.
The grand jury "never heard a peep about the officer's duty," Barbone said during the court conference Friday. Moreover, he said, jurors should have been given such information when they inquired.
The Prosecutor's Office, in response, rejected the notion that the grand jury proceedings were unfair. The brief focused on the contention that DiBuonaventura had knowingly falsified records. The office deemed some of the evidence cited in the defense's motion irrelevant to the charges.
"The stop was illegal," said First Assistant Prosecutor Michael S. Curwin. "There's a video showing him lying."
Judge M. Christine Allen-Jackson, calling the standard to dismiss an indictment "very tough," denied the defense motion. The next status conference in the case is scheduled for May 29.
Moriarty has introduced a bill that would require police departments to install cameras when acquiring vehicles, crediting the technology with his exoneration.