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New Jersey Man Investigated, Arrested After Purchasing Multiple Gift Cards From CVS

The man was charged with promoting prostitution after allegedly saying he was going to exchange the gift cards for sex.

Richard B. Levine/NewscomRichard B. Levine/NewscomA New Jersey man is now on the hook for promoting prostitution after buying multiple gift cards from a CVS Pharmacy.

Mount Olive Township Police were called to the CVS location on Tuesday over "suspicious activity," according to a police report. A man later identified as 28-year-old Craig Nakonechny had "repeatedly" entered and exited the store and ultimately purchased several gift cards.

This was somehow enough to trigger a call to the police (it's not clear from whom) and a visit from Officer Anthony Gardner.

When Gardner arrived, Nakonechny's car was still parked in the CVS parking lot and he was seated inside. "Gardner approached Nakonechny and as they spoke, the officer "observed multiple gift cards on the front seat of the vehicle," the report states.

Then Nakonechny—who has done nothing thus far except purchase several gift cards from CVS and return to his car—allegedly just offered up the fact that he planned to take the gift cards and exchange them directly for sex.

"Through the course of the investigation it was determined that Mr. Nakonechny had purchased the gift cards to pay for the services of an individual for the purpose of engaging in prostitution," states the police report. Nakonechny was arrested and charged with promoting prostitution, and has been released pending an upcoming court date.

If you're confused, you're not alone. Not only do the initial reasons for this investigation make little sense, but it's hard to buy someone basically blurting out to a cop, "hey, I'm going to take this totally mundane purchase here and use it to engage in illegal activity!" People are all sorts of idiots, however, so it's possible Nakonechny did precisely this (I wasn't able to get in contact with him).

In any event, the case highlights how thin and arbitrary the line between illegal prostitution and permissible courtship can be. Nakonechny isn't even accused of having sex, or soliciting it—simply purchasing gift cards, which he allegedly planned to exchange for sex somehow.

Of course, this wouldn't be the first time Gardner has gone after someone on dubious premises. In 2016, the city settled for $60,000 in a false arrest and excessive force suit stemming from a traffic stop by Gardner in 2012.

The driver, Carl Granese, was stopped for failing to signal a lane change when Gardner said he smelled weed. Granese agreed to and passed a field sobriety test, but did not consent for Gardner to search his car, so Gardner detained him and called for a K-9 unit. In the interim, another sergeant showed up and approved Granese using his cell phone to make a call. Gardner didn't like this, and expressed it by tackling Granese to the ground and handcuffing him. The drug dogs found no drugs. But Granese was arrested nonetheless, charged with motor vehicle violations and resisting arrest.

Photo Credit: Richard B. Levine/Newscom

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  • Ron||

    the man could say he is going to nevada where some locations prostitution is legal.

  • CE||

    How much of that was in gift cards?

  • Citizen X - #6||

    Seems legit.

  • Chipper Morning Baculum||

    While New Jersey is a way bigger shithole than Florida, which is one of the better states, for some reason, New Jersey Man has a lot of catching up to do.

  • Marcus Aurelius||

    I believe the term is now "shithouse", thankyouverrymuch.

  • Ithiotis Daskalos||

    1. Gift cards are one of the #1 mechanisms used by Fraudsters for money laundering, and extracting funds from stolen payment products/compromised accounts. Buying them in Bulk (volume) or with high velocity (frequency) is a strong indicator of fraud or criminal activity. So, being suspicious IS NOT unreasonable here, thought the prior actions by said officer sound very unreasonable.

    2. I think you may need to edit the final paragraph. " approved Gardner using his cell phone" did you mean Granese?

  • IceTrey||

    Reasonable suspicion requires specific articulable facts that a person has committed, is committing or is about to commit a crime. Purchasing cards does not rise to that level.

  • ||

    Who is this clown Gardner?

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    Can this actually stand?

  • Malvolio||

    It's idiocy.

    First of all, "promoting prostitution" is the wrong charge. Promoting means, well, promoting. Making it easier, putting willing buyers and willing sellers together, providing a place, stuff like like that. The charge they were looking for is "soliciting prostitution".

    And soliciting prostitution is going to be hard to prove. Buying the cards doesn't prove it or tend to prove it. It's not a conspiracy charge where you need an "overt act". All they have is his supposed confession.

    If I were him, I'd get on the stand and explain that I confessed to the cop that I was PLANNING to hire a prostitute, and I had even asked a prostitute how much it would cost and how much to pay her, but we hadn't agreed on anything. No agreement, no solicitation.

  • juris imprudent||

    How did you crack the case officer?

    *dons sunglasses*

    I carded him.

  • Crusty Juggler||

    My God.

  • SQRLSY One||

    Yes, my son? What can I do for you?

  • FlameCCT||

    Mirror sunglasses?
    With the mirror on the inside?

  • Zeb||

    "Through the course of the investigation it was determined that Mr. Nakonechny had purchased the gift cards to pay for the services of an individual for the purpose of engaging in prostitution,

    I think there must be a special class in the police academy for stilted and awkward sentence construction. Cop talk is so weird.

  • Citizen X - #6||

    A single area of the brain governs both empathy and passive-voice avoidance, apparently.

  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

    +1 particular individual.

  • Shandower||

    This sort of writing style is akin to listening to the archaic patterns you see in (especially higher) courts or the senate floor. I was instructed to write reports like this - factual and as formally fancy as you can make it - because it conveyed a sense of gravitas to the casual reader.

    My first thought upon reading this is that Nakonechny probably made some joke about how his lady wouldn't put out until be bought these gift cards for her. Maybe said lady needs gifts for somebody's birthday. Maybe Nakonechny expected doing such a nice thing would get him laid. Maybe he was just being a smart-ass and gave an answer that was so patently stupid that nobody could possibly take it seriously.

    Whatever the case, the cop clearly didn't appreciate the answer.

  • ipsquire||

    Google translate of "Through the course of the investigation it was determined" from police report to English says "After I threatened him physically and barraged him with leading questions, he kind of muttered"

  • loveconstitution1789||

    People are stupid but sex between consenting adults for money should not be illegal.

  • Marcus Aurelius||

    Yeah, he was probably just buying his wife a gift. #metoo

  • IceTrey||

    The guy doesn't know hookers take cash?

  • Olga||

    I have worked retail. If you act weird (entering and exiting more than 2 times in a short period of time) and only purchase gift cards, some might wonder if you were either 1) shoplifting or 2) casing the joint for a robbery. So when the police were called. Not that shocking.

    The guy was an idiot. The police are LOOKING to see if you committed a crime. You don't admit your committed a crime or plan to commit a crime. Simply say, I purchased gifts cards. I exited and entered multiple times because I was indecisive.

  • Robert||

    I don't think he thought what he said he'd do was a crime. He probably thought he was passing along a great tip for pleasing your girlfriend.

  • EscherEnigma||

    Hey now. Paying for sex is only permissible when it's with jewelry and you take them out to dinner first. Going straight to gift cards? So tacky.

  • Johnny Hit n Run Paulene||

    Again, the advice "never-never-never-never-ever talk to a cop" is proven correct.

  • Trollificus||

    As confirmatory evidence mounts, you may even need to add another "never" in there.

  • EscherEnigma||

    Someone repeatedly entering and exiting a store is suspicious. Whoever called it in probably thought he was casing the place. So a cop coming by to check things out and, finding the guy still in the parking lot, going up for a chat, is perfectly reasonable.

    The accused blurting out his illicit intentions is pretty weird, but if true the arrest sounds legit.

    So weird story? Sure. But I think I'll need more before I put this in the "police behaving poorly" bin.

  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

    No one was killed, so I'd say they behaved pretty well, I'd say.

  • Trollificus||

    Pretty sure Mr. Nachoneckny was so pleased with his meathead witticism he repeated it to this cop. (And yes, there are plenty of gfs and baby mommas tacky enough to give it up for gift cards, or cheap wine, or a little toke-n-blow. Have you not seen the documentary portion of "Idiocracy"?) But characterizing this parking lot conversation as an "investigation" sounds a lot like pure puffery.

    Also, the sentence in the charging report ("...purchased the gift cards to pay for the services of an individual for the purpose of engaging in prostitution,"), implies the cop arrested the guy for plotting to hire someone *else* to go engage in prostitution! (As heinous criminal plots go, that ranks with the sad fellow who cut the corners off a $20 bill and taped them onto a $1 bill, incurring both a $1 loss and counterfeiting charges. His Public Defenders' assertion that "My client has some learning difficulties." presumably found sympathetic purchase with the guffaw-stifling jury.)

    "...purchased the gift cards to pay for sexual services, which is illegal under Statute blahdeblahwhatevs..." would be a less ambiguous construction. So it at least belongs in the category of "cops writing poorly".

  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

    I exchanged half my assets for sex once, how much time would that get me?

  • Fuck you, Shikha (Nunya)||

    Count the length of the relationship as time served.

  • VinniUSMC||

    *Officers responding to a(n alleged) thought crime in progress...

    I feel so safe now that Minority Report is apparently a reality.

  • sharmota4zeb||

    If he wants to exchange material rewards for sex, he can do it legally by giving the lady a gold ring.

  • Johnimo||

    No problem! This officer Gardner is a likely candidate to get shot one of his less-than-impressed victims soon enough. He'll be sorely missed?

  • Trollificus||

    In your scenario, hopefully not.

  • I am the 0.000000013%||

    OK, I confess that I read an article. In my defense, I actually learned something useful for once!

  • Cloudbuster||

    So I should keep quiet about how I'm going to exchange dinner and a movie for sex this weekend? Oops.

  • Cloudbuster||

    Takeaway:

    Don't. Talk. To. Cops.

    Why doesn't everyone understand that, yet?

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