Police & Fire

Disorderly Persons And Underage DWI Cases Heard In Sparta Municipal Court

Nathaniel Wittner, in front of the Honorable John E. Mulhern, at Sparta Municipal Court. Credits: Jennifer Jean Miller
Daniel A. Colfax with his client Joseph Ayrey. Credits: Jennifer Jean Miller

SPARTA, NJ - The Honorable John E. Mulhern, heard a number of cases on Monday night in Sparta, including a couple of them, which were recently reported in The Alternative Press.

One of the evening’s cases was for disorderly conduct, which resulted in one arrest, on New Year’s Day of Sparta resident Nathaniel Wittner.

The Sparta Township Police Department reported that Wittner, age 24, was upset by actions of Adam Houk, a Morganton N.C. resident, and the two were in a fistfight in front of the Mohawk House in Sparta at approximately 12:45 a.m. Wittner, according to the Sparta Police Department, said Houk, age 23, “allegedly acted inappropriately toward two adult females that were leaving the restaurant.”

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Following the fight and separation of Wittner and Houk, Wittner, as reported by the Sparta Police Department “again became combative and disorderly.” The department reported that Wittner did not heed several commands of Officer Frank Schomp, and was arrested. Sergeants Dennis Proctor, Neil Spidaletto, and Corporal William Moyle assisted Schomp at the scene, including dispersing the crowd following the melee.

Wittner, after being transported to the police station and charged with the disorderly persons offense, was released on his own recognizance.

In court on Monday night, Wittner told Mulhern, when he was asked if he wished to be represented by an attorney, “No.” He told Mulhern he instead wanted to speak to prosecutor, Jonathan McMeen.

“I want you to be clear that you have the right to an attorney,” said Mulhern.

Mulhern further depicted two scenarios to Wittner about the importance of having representation by an attorney.

“I assume you climbed trees as a kid,” Mulhern stated, and to which Wittner nodded.

Mulhern said if a child climbs a tree, and then fell out of the tree and broke his arm, he would not repair his arm himself, but go to the hospital. And, if a child lost his teeth in the fall, he would not attempt to take care of his teeth himself, but instead see a dentist.

“If you’re looking at jail, or substantial fines, it may be in your best interest to have an attorney,” Mulhern reiterated.

Wittner still insisted he wanted to speak with McMeen.

The second case of mention in The Alternative Press heard on Monday night, January 7, was for Joseph Ayrey, age 19. Ayrey, a Sparta resident crashed his vehicle in a neighbor’s yard on Castlewood Trail at 12:27 a.m., on December 29, 2012.

Officer Jeffrey McCarrick found a vacant Chrysler sitting in the middle of the resident’s yard, on arrival at the scene. Ayrey approached McCarrick, telling the officer he crashed the vehicle while he was texting and lost control. Ayrey said he had returned to his own resident to obtain a shovel to dig out his vehicle from the yard, since it had been stuck.

McCarrick observed Ayrey’s actions, and noted he might be under the influence of alcohol. Ayrey denied it when asked by McCarrick, argued with him, and then was arrested for DWI after performing the field sobriety tests. As he was being arrested, he resisted, and had to be physically controlled by McCarrick. In the police car, Ayrey proceeded to slam his head into the back of the car’s driver’s seat, and required further restraint. He was transported to headquarters for further processing, and charged with: Underage DWI, Resisting Arrest, Leaving the Scene of an Accident, Failure to Report an Accident, Failure to Maintain a Single Lane of Travel, Failure to Keep Right, and Texting While Driving.

A sober adult picked up Ayrey at the police station, and his vehicle was impounded.

Spidaletto, and Corporal Louis Takacs, aided McCarrick with the investigation.

Ayrey was present with an attorney, Daniel A. Colfax of Sparta, who pled not guilty for Ayrey, and who also noted a conflict of interest of having the case heard in Sparta, because McMeen had represented Ayrey’s family in another matter.

Mulhern agreed, and said he would send the case to court in Franklin.

One of the other cases originally reported in The Alternative Press, was that of Lois N. Drinkard, for leaving the scene of an accident on December 30, 2012. 

Drinkard, age 66, reportedly hit the front of an unnamed victim’s 2010 Honda CRV as he was backing his car into a parking space by Panera Bread. Prior to the collision, the Sparta Police Department received several calls of a vehicle driven recklessly on Center Street. Before the police arrived, the beige Cadillac fled the scene at a high rate of speed, traveling north.

Police located the 2006 Cadillac in front of a Sparta residence, with major front passenger side damage, and leaking fluids. Drinkard denied colliding her vehicle with the Honda, and was asked to report to court on January 7. She was also told not to operate her vehicle until repairs were made, because the vehicle was unsafe. Officer Brian Hassloch and Corporal Robert Fraser led the investigation.

The Alternative Press observed Drinkard’s case had not been heard yet on Monday night, as the court thinned out from full capacity earlier in the evening. McMeen advised The Alternative Press that Drinkard’s case was rescheduled for this morning in the Sparta Municipal Court, January 10.


Editor's Note: The Alternative Press had planned to attend the court session this morning, January 10, and upon arrival, learned court sessions have been cancelled for today, and rescheduled, though rescheduled dates have currently not been specified.

Editor's Note: Defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.

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