New Jersey teens held on bail following
By ERIC FRANCIS
CORRESPONDENT | March 30,2013
ERIC FRANCIS PHOTO
Joseph Atkinson, left, and Richard Torruellas sit in court on Friday.
WHITE RIVER JUNCTION — Two New Jersey men were arrested in front of the Riverside Middle School in Springfield on Thursday afternoon in a car with a safe containing cash, cocaine, heroin, ammunition and a digital scale.
Both men were ordered held for lack of bail following their arraignments on a slate of charges Friday.
Joseph “Black” Atkinson and Richard “Scoob” Torruellas, both 18, were ordered held for lack of $50,000 and $25,000 bail respectively following their arraignments Friday afternoon at the Windsor County Courthouse in downtown White River Junction.
A local woman told police that the men had come to her house Thursday because another woman had, unbeknownst to her, promised them that she would give them a gun, apparently as the result of a drug transaction. A Newport, N.H., woman, whom police described as a “known drug user,” wrote in her sworn statement to police that she gave the men her 9 mm handgun because she felt she had no other choice if she was going to avoid a violent encounter after a female friend of hers showed up and rapidly told her that she’d already promised the men a weapon.
The woman went on to say that the men then demanded she give them a ride in her car and it was during that ride that Springfield Police Sgt. William Daniels spotted Torruellas in her back seat and began following her car, according to court records.
In his affidavit, Daniels wrote that he had been on the lookout for Torruellas for over two weeks ever since he discovered that the teen had allegedly given him a false name during an encounter at the Springfield McDonald’s where Daniels impounded the car he was driving and gave him a series of traffic tickets.
The Newport woman later told officers that when Daniels began following her that the man she knew only as “Black” pointed the gun at her and demanded that she not stop. She said once Daniels flipped on his blue lights she decided it was safer to take her chances with the police and pulled over anyway in front of the school at which point she said Atkinson allegedly tossed the gun into her glove compartment and told her to say that he was her cousin’s.
Springfield Police Cpl. Chris Norton wrote in his report that a “visibly shaking” Atkinson would not make eye contact with police and initially identified himself as “Joseph Smith” but could not produce any identification or even recall the name of the city where he was born.
Norton said a pat-down search of Atkinson turned up a burned marijuana cigarette, just under $200 in cash, and the keys to a safe that was inside the car. After a police dog sniffed around the car and “alerted” to the presence of drugs, police seized the safe and applied for a search warrant.
Police found the loaded Ruger pistol in the glove compartment along with three baggies of crack cocaine rocks and a fourth baggie containing about 40 small packages of heroin.
Police said the two men had five cellphones between them and when a judge granted permission to search the safe it was found to contain nearly $3,600 in cash, two grams of marijuana, two ounces of crack, five more baggies of heroin, nearly 150 rounds of mixed ammunition, a silver necklace, a debit card and a digital scale.
Since Atkinson allegedly had the keys to the safe and was the one pointing the gun he received the most charges, pleading innocent to felony counts of first degree unlawful restraint, using a firearm to commit a crime and possession of heroin and cocaine along with accompanying misdemeanor counts of reckless endangerment and providing false information to police.
Torruellas pleaded innocent to felony counts of heroin and cocaine possession and a misdemeanor count of providing a false name to police.
During the teen’s court appearance Friday, newly installed Windsor County State’s Attorney Michael Kainen told Judge Robert Gerety that both men have extensive juvenile records in New Jersey for crimes ranging from drug possession to “making terroristic threats.”
Atkinson faces a maximum potential penalty of up to 37 years in prison if he were to be convicted of all the charges now pending against him.