Cape May Court House, New Jersey – Cape May County Prosecutor Jeffrey H. Sutherland, Lower Township Police Chief William Priole and Cape May County Sheriff Robert Nolan announce the arrest of Bryan Claudio-Reyes, (age 28), Steven R. Harpel (age 34), Benjamin J. Beason (age 39), Jessica K. Smith (age 34) and Sherri L. Schultz (age 47) all residing in Villas section of Lower Township, NJ for various narcotics offenses on August 6, 2021.
These arrests were the conclusion of a cooperative narcotics investigation between the Cape May County Prosecutor’s Office, Gangs, Guns and Narcotics Task Force, the Cape May County Sheriff’s Department and the Lower Township Police Department. This investigation began in July of 2021 when Sheriff Nolan received numerous complaints regarding possible drug activity at a residence located on the east block of Weber Avenue in the Villas section of Lower Township. Sheriff Nolan then passed this information on to the Commander of the Cape May County Prosecutor’s Office, Gangs, Guns and Narcotics Task Force and an investigation was immediately initiated.
On August 6, 2021, the Cape May County Regional SWAT Team executed a Court authorized search warrant at the Weber Avenue residence. As a result, located inside the residence were Sherri L. Schultz, Steven R. Harpel, Jessica K. Smith, and Benjamin J. Beason. Evidence of narcotics distribution and narcotics use were found inside the residence.
While executing the search warrant, Officers observed Bryan Claudio-Reyes approaching the area of Weber Avenue driving a truck. From the investigation it was learned that Claudio-Reyes frequents the residence on Weber Avenue and was believed to be involved with narcotics activity at location. Claudio-Reyes was arrested at the scene for active warrants. At the time of his arrest, distribution amounts of suspected Oxycodone pills, Methamphetamine and approximately $1,000.00 in U.S. Currency were found on the person of Claudio-Reyes.
A Sheriff’s Officer and his K9 ‘Ares’ of the Cape May County Sheriff’s Department were already on scene for the execution of the search warrant and was requested to utilize K9 Ares to perform a narcotics sweep of the vehicle being operated by Claudio-Reyes. K9 Ares positively scented to the possible presence of narcotics in the vehicle. A Court authorized search warrant was then received and executed on the vehicle. As a result of this search, distribution amounts of suspected Heroin and Cocaine were seized along with evidence consistent with the packaging of narcotics for sales. Also found in the vehicle were approximately four knifes, which were deemed to be weapons for charging purposes.
Due to the condition of the residence on Weber Avenue, Lower Township officials deemed the residence to be uninhabitable.
The following persons were charged on summons and released pending Court proceedings: *
Jessica K. Smith, Possession of CDS paraphernalia, a Disorderly Persons Offence.
Benjamin J. Beason, Possession of CDS paraphernalia, a Disorderly Persons Offence.
The following persons were charged on warrants and lodged in the Cape May County Correctional Facility: *
Steven R. Harpel, Possession of Methamphetamine, Possession of Heroin, 3rd degree.
Sherri L. Schultz, Possession of Methamphetamine, Possession of Heroin, 3rd degree. Bryan Claudio-Reyes, Possession of Methamphetamine, 3rd degree; Possession of Oxycodone, 3rd Degree; Possession Heroin, 3rd Degree, Possession of Cocaine, 3rd Degree, Possession of Narcotics Paraphernalia, 4th degree; Possession of a Weapon, 2nd Degree; Money Laundering, 3rd Degree; Possession of a Weapon during a CDS offense, 2nd Degree.
Prosecutor Sutherland advises that persons convicted of second-degree crimes are subject to a term of imprisonment of 5 to10 years in New Jersey State Prison. Third degree crimes carry a sentence 3 to 5 years and fourth degree crimes can be sentenced to 18 months in State Prison.
Prosecutor Sutherland stated that his office will continue to work hand in hand with the County Sheriff and local law enforcement agencies to target anyone selling or possessing for distribution illegal controlled dangerous substances. Prosecutor Sutherland and Sheriff Nolan also commended the investigative efforts of a Sheriff’s Officer, who is currently assigned to the Prosecutor’s Office Gangs, Gun, and Narcotics Task Force and who was the lead investigator in this case.
Both Prosecutor Sutherland and Sheriff Nolan continue to urge the citizens of Cape May County to report any information regarding illegal drug activity and or any criminal activity within community and that this information can be reported anonymously through the Cape May County Sheriffs Tip Line at cmcsheriff.net and click on anonymous tip, or through the Cape May County Crime Stoppers at 609-889-3597, or to the Cape May County Prosecutor’s Office at 609-465-1135.
*Charges are merely accusations, and the defendants are presumed innocent until and unless they are proven guilty.