Two women plead guilty to bias intimidation charge

On Feb. 11 Adriane Lynn Tropiano, 40, and Angela Marie DeNigris, 40, both of Manalapan, entered guilty pleas before state Superior Court Judge Anthony J. Mellaci Jr., sitting in Freehold, to one count each of fourth degree bias intimidation. They are scheduled to be sentenced on April 25.

The charges stemmed from an investigation into a series of threats that were made against a Manalapan couple. The investigation was conducted jointly by the Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office and the Manalapan Police Department.

According to a press release from the prosecutor’s office, the investigation was initiated after the Manalapan couple received a series of threatening and racially derogatory telephone calls in June 2007 and July 2007. The couple owns a second house, also in Manalapan, which they had rented out to a minority family. The threatening telephone calls were made anonymously.

However, a local supermarket’s security camera captured both suspects on videotape making two of the calls from a pay telephone. Each of these two phone calls included threats of vandalism and arson against the homeowners in retaliation for their actions in renting their house to a minority family, according to the press release.

The bias intimidation charge alleges that the defendants intentionally harassed the victims with the purpose to intimidate based on race or skin color. An individual convicted of fourth degree bias intimidation faces a maximum potential custodial sentence of up to 18 months in state prison. However, under New Jersey law there is a statutory presumption that a defendant who has not previously been convicted of a crime and who is being sentenced for a crime of the fourth degree receive a sentence of probation.

As part of Tropiano’s plea agreement, the state will recommend that she be sentenced to probation conditioned upon the performance of 100 hours of community service. The state will recommend that DeNigris be admitted into the Pre- Trial Intervention Program and that she be required to perform 50 hours of community service. A condition for both defendants will also be that they have no further contact with the victims in this case.M

onmouth County Prosecutor Luis A. Valentin said, “These defendants engaged in a course of conduct that was specifically meant to intimidate a particular minority group. The quick apprehension and prosecution of Tropiano and DeNegris should serve as a message that all Monmouth County residents are entitled to live their lives free from such fear and intimidation. The Monmouth County law enforcement community will continue its efforts to aggressively investigate and prosecute cases of this nature.”