A South Brunswick bodybuilder received a five-year suspended prison sentence today for supplying a pill press to a steroid-manufacturing and distribution ring in the Hanovers and Florham Park in Morris County in 2007.
Jason Arntz, 38, was among 16 people arrested in March 2007 after a four-month probe centering on co-defendants Anthony Cuppari and his best friend, Michael Dente, both bodybuilders of East Hanover.
The scheme involved Dente manufacturing anabolic steroids in his basement, authorities have said. Arntz pleaded guilty in January to third-degree conspiracy to manufacture steroids, by supplying a pill press to Dente knowing he would use the machine to make capsules of the muscle-enhancing drug.
Arntz faced up to five years in prison, but he and defense attorney Robert Dunn asked for probation, saying Arntz has since “turned his life around,” and is remarried and has a young child.
“I’d like to apologize to the court,” Arntz said during his sentencing in Superior Court in Morristown. “I take responsibility for my actions. I just hope I can move forward.”
But because Arntz had a prior drug distribution conviction in Union County in 2001, as well as a prior disorderly persons offense in 2002, Morris County Assistant Prosecutor Vincent Leo sought a three-to-five-year prison term.
Judge Thomas Manahan rejected both requests, and decided to impose a suspended sentence.
“Those two brushes with the law did not impede Mr. Arntz from assisting someone he knew was manufacturing anabolic steroids,” Manahan said. “I do not find probation is an appropriate sentence. Having said that, I don’t find state prison – today – is an appropriate sentence. I’m going to keep you under wraps in a different way,” with a suspended sentence.
Arntz must stay out of trouble or he’ll be sent to prison, said the judge, adding, “It’s up to you how you comport yourself, but there won’t be any other chances.”
Arntz was also sentenced to perform 150 hours of community service and pay a $1,000 fine. Manahan urged Arntz to satisfy some of his community service by speaking publicly in schools or to groups about the dangers of steroids.
Cuppari, who pleaded guilty in February to distributing steroids to a juvenile and distributing cocaine to an adult, was the last of the group to have pleaded guilty, and now faces being sentenced on April 9 to up to 10 years in prison.
Most of the others, including Dente and another key figure, Joseph Costello, received probationary sentences.
Cuppari typically would face up to five years in prison and a $15,000 fine, but he faces double those penalties because the prosecutor’s office is seeking to have him sentenced under an “enhanced punishment” statute for distributing drugs to a minor, authorities have said.
Cuppari, a personal trainer who had been a volunteer assistant Hanover Park high school football coach, was the only one of the group who pleaded guilty to distributing steroids to a minor, and the only one to face enhanced penalties.
(From NJ.com and The Star Ledger)