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Long Branch Restaurant Owner Convicted of Drug, Weapons Offenses

FREEHOLD: A Long Branch restaurant owner was convicted on 91 counts involving the sale of drugs and weapons, announced Acting Monmouth County Prosecutor Christopher J. Gramiccioni.

Anthony "Nygee" Stevenson, 47, of Long Branch, was convicted of 91 counts, including 77 counts related to undercover sales of heroin from his Christabell's American Soul Food Restaurant, on Springdale Avenue in Long Branch. The conviction followed a two-month trial in the courtroom of Monmouth County Superior Court Judge John T. Mullaney, Jr., J.S.C.

Stevenson was also convicted of second degree Distribution of a Controlled Dangerous Substance, two counts of second degree Possession with Intent to Distribute and two counts of second degree Conspiracy to Distribute (one for heroin and one for cocaine) and two counts of Unlawful Possession of a Weapon (Assault Rifles), two counts of Unlawful Sale of a Weapon (assault rifles), and two counts of Possession and Sale of Large Capacity Magazines. Stevenson faces up to 10 years in a New Jersey state prison on each of the second degree offenses when he returns for sentencing before Judge John Mullaney on July 29.

The case is part of an investigation dubbed "Operation Grand Opening" where Stevenson sold drugs and guns to undercover investigators, mostly out of a restaurant he was renovating at 530 Springdale Avenue in Long Branch. The Operation was dubbed, "Grand Opening," because surveillance began on the day of the grand opening of the restaurant on May 25, 2011. During the course of the investigation over 9,000 calls were intercepted by detectives from county and local law enforcement agencies culminating with the arrest of over 40 people between Aug.1- 8, 2011.

Stevenson sold heroin to an undercover officer on 22 occasions (about 1,900 bags total) either directly or through the use of the delivery man at his restaurant, who also delivered heroin. One of the lower level dealers Stevenson sold to re-distributed the heroin to another undercover detective. On the day Stevenson was arrested, he and another co-defendant were in possession of 2,500 bags of heroin after meeting with his supplier in Newark. In addition to drugs, Stevenson also sold two assault rifles, both with large capacity magazines, to an undercover detective for $3000.

The case was prosecuted by Monmouth County Assistant Prosecutor Paul Alexander.

Stevenson is represented by Maria Noto, Esq., of Matawan.

Read more from: Long Branch

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