MAHWAH, N.J. – A car with a bogus license plate that was blocking a handicapped parking space at a Mahwah gas station turned out to be driven by an ex-con carrying a handgun loaded with hollow-point bullets, authorities said Friday.
Detectives Eric Larsen and Detective Michael Grassi were on patrol Thursday when they spotted the car in the Valero Gas Station on southbound Route 17, Police Chief James N. Batelli told Daily Voice.
The vehicle “was blocking the entrance to two parking spaces one of which being a handicapped space” and “displayed a fictitious license plate,” he said.
The driver, 28-year-old Daniel R. DiBenedetto of Hawley, PA “appeared to be very nervous and said he was traveling from Pennsylvania and heading to Paterson,” Batelli said.
As DiBenedetto got out, the detectives spotted a crack pipe in plain view, the chief said. They also found a switchblade, he said.
A search of DiBenedetto turned up a loaded Smith and Wesson .38 Special – loaded with hollow-point ammo -- in his front jacket pocket, Batelli said.
The detectives arrested DiBenedetto, who has felony convictions in New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania.
A judge subsequently ordered him held without bail in the Bergen County Jail on various weapons possession charges, as well as possession of drug paraphernalia.
Click here to sign up for Daily Voice's free daily emails and news alerts.