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'Anti-Heroin Crusader' Defends Actions At Sentencing For Holland Tunnel Gun Bust

JERSEY CITY, N.J. (CBSNewYork) -- He calls himself an anti-heroin crusader, but prosecutors argued otherwise.

On Friday, a Pennsylvania man stopped at the Holland Tunnel with guns inside of a garish SUV -- on an expedition that he claims was to save a girl from a drug dealer -- was formally sentenced.

As CBS2's Alice Gainer reported, an emotional John Cramsey acknowledged that he broke the law in June of 2016.

"I'm sorry for hurting so many people, I'm sorry for hurting my boys that are left and need me," he said.

But he defended his reasons for committing the crime.

"The true integrity of what I was trying to do was noble. I had no will or intent to hurt anybody," he said.

Cramsey and two others were in a flashy, bright SUV when they were stopped at the Holland Tunnel for a crack in the windshield.

An officer spotted a loaded gun and then the rest of the arsenal was found, along with marijuana.

The 52-year-old had lost his daughter to a drug overdose just four months earlier.

He told police they were on their way to Queens to save a girl being held hostage by a drug dealer, even posting about the mission on Facebook.

In court the prosecutor fired back.

"Maybe he thinks it's a noble cause to save people from opioid addiction. I agree with that 100 percent. It's not a noble cause to use firearms and bring an arsenal to the city in order to do that. That's what this case is about. He went there with a purpose that was unlawful," prosecutors argued.

The judge listed Cramsey's lengthy resume of community and volunteer work, coaching, and leadership positions, and pointed out that up until this incident he had been a law-abiding citizen.

She said that normally probation would be a suitable sentence.

"My hands are tied, and I cannot do that, and I'm sorry for that sir," Superior Court Judge Mirtha Ospina said.

Citing the Graves Act which mandates prison for certain gun related crimes.

"I have to impose the 5 years with mandatory minimum one year parole ineligibility," she said.

The custodial sentencing on Friday, was the result of a plea deal reached over the summer after Cramsey pleaded guilty to weapons charges.

"A good man is going to jail today, and it makes me sick," defense attorney James Lisa said.

While Cramsey said he's sorry for wasting the court's time and taxpayer money, he regrets not being able to help the girl he said he was going to rescue.

"The only time I did get to meet Jamie Paterson was at her funeral. She died of an overdose. it was like burying my daughter all over again," he said.

Cramsey lost his gun range business because he is now a convicted felon. He will get credit for 180 days already served in jail.


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