TRENTON – Acting Attorney General John J. Hoffman announced that a drug dealer from Hudson County was sentenced to state prison today for growing large crops of high-grade marijuana in two buildings in Newark. A co-defendant who was his partner in the marijuana growing and distribution operation is awaiting sentencing.
David Companioni, 32, of West New York, N.J., was sentenced to 20 years in state prison, including six years and eight months of parole ineligibility, by Superior Court Judge Siobhan A. Teare in Essex County. Companioni was tried in front of an Essex County jury in August and convicted on Aug. 20 of charges of first-degree maintaining or operating a controlled dangerous substance production facility and second-degree possession of marijuana with intent to distribute.
Deputy Attorneys General Ray Mateo and Jamie Picard tried the case and handled today’s sentencing for the Division of Criminal Justice Gangs & Organized Crime Bureau. The charges were the result of an investigation by the New Jersey State Police Drug Trafficking North Unit.
A co-defendant, Aday Y. Fernandez, 34, of West New York, N.J., pleaded guilty on April 10, 2015 to charges of conspiracy and maintaining or operating a controlled dangerous substance production facility. He is scheduled to be sentenced on Nov. 13. The state will recommend that he be sentenced to seven years in state prison.
In January 2012, the New Jersey State Police, with assistance from the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, developed information that Fernandez and others were involved in the cultivation of high-grade marijuana. The State Police commenced an investigation, and Companioni was identified as a co-conspirator through surveillance. Companioni and Fernandez were seen purchasing numerous items from a Home Depot store that could be used to construct an irrigation system for growing high-grade marijuana, including PVC piping, rolls of black poly pipe and PVC fittings. They were seen taking those items into a warehouse on Miller Street in Newark. Companioni and Fernandez were observed making frequent visits to the warehouse and a multi-family residential home on Summer Avenue in Newark.
Companioni and Fernandez were arrested on Feb. 23, 2012. Members of the New Jersey State Police executed search warrants at the warehouse on Miller Street and the multi-family home on Summer Avenue. Investigators discovered more than 100 marijuana plants in total. The State Police also executed a search warrant at Fernandez’s residence in the 300 block of 54th Street in West New York, where they seized several pounds of marijuana and more than $42,000 in U.S. currency.