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Morganville Man Pleads Guilty to Conspiracy to Possess Cocaine with Intent to Distribute


Ocean County Prosecutor Bradley D. Billhimer announced that on August 1, 2022, James Hemenway, 43, of Morganville, who was arrested during “Operation Checkmate”, pled guilty to Conspiracy to Possess Cocaine with Intent to Distribute. 

At the time of his sentencing on September 23, 2022, the State will be recommending a term of seven years in New Jersey State Prison.

“Operation Checkmate” was a four-month-long cooperative, multi-jurisdictional investigation conducted by the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office Narcotics Strike Force and the United States Drug Enforcement Administration, in concert with many other state, county, and local law enforcement agencies.  

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

During the course of these 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 – both within and outside of Ocean County - assisted in every aspect of all three investigations.  

Prosecutor Billhimer stated that the investigations, identified as “Operation Checkmate,” began in July 2021 and concluded in October 2021.

The three cocaine networks were responsible for the import of more than three kilograms of cocaine per week into the Ocean, Monmouth, and Middlesex County areas.  

Through sophisticated surveillance methods and undercover operatives, “Operation Checkmate” was successful in disrupting and dismantling illicit controlled dangerous substance (CDS) distribution activities in these three counties, as well as New York City.  

According to Prosecutor Billhimer, on October 26, 2021, “Operation Checkmate” closed with the apprehension of 24 individuals for various offenses involving the distribution of controlled dangerous substances.  

Additionally, 24 search warrants were executed, resulting in the seizure of more than four kilograms of cocaine, over 15 pounds of marijuana, in excess of $650,000 in United States currency,  seven firearms (three handguns, three “ghost guns,” and one pistol grip shotgun), ten vehicles, and additional illegal narcotics.  

Prosecutor Billhimer stated that on October 26, 2021, Detectives executed court-authorized search warrants on Hemenway’s residence in Morganville as well as two motor vehicles.  

As a result, Detectives seized approximately 130 grams of cocaine and $29,000 in United States Currency.  

Hemenway was transported to the Ocean County Jail and later released as a consequence of New Jersey Bail Reform.