U.S. Attorney's Office
District of New Jersey
(973) 645-2700
February 11, 2015

Essex County, New Jersey Man Admits to Armed Carjacking and Bribing a Corrections Officer to Smuggle Contraband into Essex County Jail

TRENTON, NJ—A Newark, New Jersey, man today admitted his role in an armed carjacking and subsequent involvement in a scheme to bribe a corrections officer to smuggle contraband, including marijuana and cell phones, into the Essex County Correctional Facility, a federal pretrial detention facility, U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman announced.

Quasim Nichols, 30, pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Mary L. Cooper to an information charging him with one count of committing an armed carjacking and one count of conspiring with others, including Essex County Corrections Officer Stephon Solomon, 27, of Irvington, New Jersey, to commit extortion under color of official right. Nichols is being held without bail.

According to the documents filed in this case, other cases, and statements made in court:

On May 28, 2012, Nichols and three men were traveling in a gray Dodge Magnum toward Elizabeth, New Jersey. Nichols was driving the vehicle. Upon arriving in Elizabeth, the three men exited the car and approached a 2005 BMW 645. The men pointed handguns in the direction of the BMW’s passengers and ordered them out of the car. Two of the men then entered the BMW and drove it away. The third man re-entered the Dodge Magnum driven by Nichols. The third man was carrying a black Taurus Millennium semi-automatic handgun and a cell phone that had been stolen from one of the occupants of the BMW. Nichols and the third man drove away and followed the stolen BMW.

While driving away from the scene, multiple police vehicles activated their overhead lights and turned on their sirens in an effort to stop Nichols. Nichols continued to drive the Dodge Magnum at a high rate of speed from Elizabeth into Newark, drove through a red light and struck a vehicle at the intersection of Martin Luther King Boulevard and Market Street. The driver of the other vehicle suffered serious injury. Nichols and the other man then attempted to flee the area on foot.

Subsequently, while detained at the Essex County Correctional Facility on the armed carjacking charge, Nichols conspired with others, including Solomon, Dwayne Harper, 31, of Newark, and Darsell Davis, 29, of Newark, to pay cash bribes to Solomon so that he would smuggle contraband—including cell phones, tobacco, and marijuana—into the Essex County Correctional Facility. After Davis and Harper collected the contraband, Davis delivered the items and cash bribes to Solomon, who then smuggled the contraband to Nichols. Nichols ultimately sold the marijuana and cell phones to other inmates. The inmates purchasing marijuana and cell phones had their friends and family pay for the items by sending Western Union money transfers to Nichols, who enlisted Davis and others to retrieve those payments. Davis obtained at least $4,300 in Western Union payments for Nichols.

Solomon pleaded guilty Oct. 1, 2014, to conspiring to commit extortion under color of official right and is scheduled to be sentenced March 25, 2015. Darsell Davis pleaded guilty Oct. 21, 2014, to conspiring to commit extortion under color of official right and awaits sentencing. Dwayne Harper pleaded guilty Oct. 21, 2014, to conspiring to smuggle marijuana into the Essex County Correctional Facility and awaits sentencing. Davis and Solomon have been released on bail. Harper is being held without bail in New Jersey.

The armed carjacking charge carries a maximum penalty of 25 years in prison. The conspiracy charge carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison. Each charge also carries a maximum fine of $250,000. Nichols agreed to forfeit $4,300 consisting of his proceeds from the contraband smuggling conspiracy. His sentencing is scheduled for May 20, 2015.

U.S. Attorney Fishman credited special agents of the FBI, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Richard M. Frankel in Newark; investigators with the Internal Affairs Division of Essex County Correctional Facility, under the leadership of Warden Roy Hendricks; the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey; the Newark Police Department, under the direction of Director Eugene Venable and Chief Anthony Campos; and the Elizabeth Police Department, under the direction of Director James Cosgrove, with the investigation leading to today’s guilty plea.

The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Jim Donnelly and Rob Frazer of the Criminal Division, Organized Crime/Gangs Unit, and Rahul Agarwal of the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Special Prosecutions Division, in Newark.

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