Marlboro man pleads guilty to conspiracy to possess cocaine with intent to distribute

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Ocean County Prosecutor Bradley D. Billhimer has announced that on Aug. 1, James Hemenway, 43, of Marlboro, pleaded guilty before state Superior Court Judge Guy P. Ryan, sitting in Toms River, to a charge of conspiracy to possess cocaine with intent to distribute.

According to an Aug. 18 press release from the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office, when Hemenway is sentenced on Sept. 23, prosecutors will recommend a term of seven years in state prison.

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Billhimer said “Operation Checkmate” was a four-month cooperative, multi-jurisdictional investigation conducted by the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office Narcotics Strike Force, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration – High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas Group 5, the Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office Narcotics Strike Force and the New Jersey State Police – Trafficking Central Unit, in concert with many other state, county and local law enforcement agencies.

According to the press release, the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office Narcotics Strike Force managed and directed three simultaneous multi-agency investigations into high level cocaine distribution in Monmouth, Ocean and Middlesex counties, and in New York City.

During the course of the investigations, approximately 50 additional law enforcement personnel were assigned to the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office Narcotics Strike Force on a full-time basis.

Multiple agencies inside and outside of Ocean County assisted in every aspect of all three investigations. The investigations, identified as “Operation Checkmate,” began in July 2021 and concluded in October 2021, according to Billhimer.

According to the press release, the three cocaine networks were responsible for the import of more than 3 kilograms of cocaine per week into Monmouth, Ocean and Middlesex counties.

Through surveillance methods and the use of undercover operatives, “Operation Checkmate” was successful in disrupting and dismantling illicit controlled dangerous substance distribution activities in the three counties and in New York City, according to the press release.

On Oct, 26, 2021, “Operation Checkmate” closed with the apprehension of 24 individuals for various offenses involving the distribution of controlled dangerous substances.

Billhimer said 24 search warrants were executed, resulting in the seizure of more than 4 kilograms of cocaine, more than 15 pounds of marijuana, more than $650,000 in U.S. currency, seven firearms (three handguns, three “ghost guns” and one pistol grip shotgun), 10 vehicles and additional illegal narcotics.

On Oct. 26, 2021, detectives executed court authorized search warrants on Hemenway’s residence in the Morganville section of Marlboro, and on two motor vehicles. As a result, detectives seized approximately 130 grams of cocaine and $29,000 in U.S. currency.

Hemenway was transported to the Ocean County Jail, Toms River, and later released under the terms of New Jersey’s bail reform regulations, according to Billhimer.

Among the agencies Billhimer acknowledged for their assistance and cooperation with the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office Narcotics Strike Force in connection with the investigation and plea agreement with Hemenway were the Matawan Police Department; the Matawan Police Department K-9 Unit; the Keyport Police Department; the Manalapan Police Department; the Jackson Police Department; the Monmouth County Sheriff’s Office; the Monmouth County Sheriff’s Office K-9 Unit; the Aberdeen Township Police Department; the Hazlet Police Department; the Hazlet Police Department K-9 Unit; the Marlboro Police Department; and the Middletown Police Department.

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