An otherwise random speeding stop led Ramsey police to nearly $13,000 in cash in an SUV driven by a 19-year-old fugitive wanted in Florida, authorities said.
Ramsey Police Officer Vasili Pieratos was behind the radar gun on Route 17 when a black 2010 Ford came speeding by early Sunday, said Ramsey Police Chief Bryan Gurney.
Pieratos stopped the vehicle near Macarthur Blvd. in Mahwah. As he approached it, he noticed that the passenger “immediately lit a cigarette inside the vehicle but was not inhaling — just blowing the smoke into the passenger compartment,” the chief said.
Inside the car, the cop smelled pot, he said.
Backup Officer Casey Hines did a quick computer search and found an active arrest warrant, issed by the Sarasota Sheriff’s Office, for the registered owner of the vehicle — Nicholas Cala, of Westminster Place in Lodi — for selling marijuana.
Cala agreed to let officers search the SUV, Gurney said. A K9 unit from the Bergen County Police Department turned up small portions of pot under the passenger seat, as well as $12,861 bundled “in varying amounts” with rubber bands, the chief said.
Cala is being held in the Bergen County Jail, pending extradition, on a fugitive warrant, in addition to charges that include money laundering, pot possession and speeding.
His passenger, 21-year-old Stefon Raysor Jr. of Gainesville Florida, was released without bail on charges of pot possession and having an open container of alcohol in a motor vehicle.
Both are due in Municipal Court in Ramsey next Thursday night.
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