Authorities in Ocean County announced that on September 8, 2023, Kevin Valverde-Cruz, 21, of Jackson, was sentenced by the Honorable Dina M. Vicari, J.S.C., to five years in New Jersey State Prison (NJSP), as a result of his previously entered guilty plea to Aggravated Assault in connection with an incident that occurred on October 18, 2022, in Lakewood Township.
Ocean County Prosecutor Bradley D. Billhimer said Judge Vicari sentenced Valverde-Cruz to five years in NJSP as a result of his previously entered guilty plea to Eluding in connection with the same incident.
Prosecutor Billhimer stated the sentences will run concurrently, and Valverde-Cruz pled guilty to both charges before the Honorable Linda G. Baxter, J.S.C. on July 12, 2023.
According to officials, on October 18, 2022, detectives from the Lakewood Township Police observed a white Jeep Grand Cherokee traveling at a high rate of speed and attempted to effectuate a motor vehicle stop.
Authorities say the vehicle operator failed to stop, and the pursuit was ultimately terminated on the Garden State Parkway due to public safety concerns.
Later that evening, officials said the same vehicle, confirmed by the vehicle's New Jersey registration number from the first encounter, was located on the shoulder of the westbound lane of Central Avenue in Lakewood.
Detectives approached the vehicle and made contact with its operator, officials stated the operator of the vehicle then did not comply with the detectives' commands, put the vehicle in reverse, and struck the detectives' vehicle.
Officials say the operator of the vehicle abruptly turned back into the roadway, almost striking the detectives, and fled the area.
An investigation by the Ocean County Prosecutor's Office Major Crime Unit, Lakewood Township Police Detective Bureau, and Ocean County Sheriff's Office Crime Scene Investigation Unit determined that Valverde-Cruz was the operator of the subject Jeep Grand Cherokee on October 18, 2022.
According to officials, on January 10, 2023, the Ocean County Regional SWAT executed a court-authorized search warrant on Valverde-Cruz's residence in Jackson Township.
Valverde-Cruz was taken into custody without incident, officials say, and processed at Lakewood Township Police Headquarters.
Officials said the white Jeep Grand Cherokee was also located at the residence in Jackson Township.
Valverde-Cruz was transported to the Ocean County Jail and subsequently released.