Morris County Prosecutor Robert A. Bianchi has a warning for those who'd try to elude police: Don't.
That message comes after a jury convicted Morristown resident Michael Wilfong Thursday of leading police on an auto chase through Morristown in a stolen BMW—a chase that ended with a crash in front of a house. Wilfong, who turns 49 Sunday, was found guilty after a three-day trial on third-degree charges of receiving stolen property, second-degree eluding and fourth-degree resisting arrest.
According to the M, on Dec. 5, 2009, Officer Anthony O'Brien of the Morristown Police Department tried to stop the BMW in the area of Abbett Avenue and Martin Luther King Avenue. The vehicle, driven by Wilfong, pulled into the parking lot, according to the prosecutor's office. But when the officer existed his own vehicle, Wilfong drove the BMW away and continued through the parking lot, across Lafayette Avenue, onto Lackawanna Place, across Morris Street, onto Elm Street and onto Franklin Avenue.
Morristown Detective Keith Hudson, who at that point was driving the lead car in a chase through the town, finally observed the vehicle crashed in front of a white house on the corner of Madison Avenue and Franklin Street, according to the prosecutor's office. But the pursuit didn't end there. Prosecutors say Wilfong was located seconds later trying to scale a fence. He began to run, but was apprehended by three officers—and then resisted the arrest, according to the prosecutor's office.
The BMW itself was taken from a Morristown BMW dealership on Nov. 25, 2009, according to the prosecutor's office.
"Eluding police is a very serious matter and poses a great danger to our police officers and the public, as is evidenced in this case where the car crashed during the pursuit," Morris County Prosecutor Robert A. Bianchi said. "Hopefully this will make clear that such conduct will be aggressively prosecuted and that if convicted, a lengthy state prison sentence will be the price to pay. This defendant now faces in excess of 10 years in state prison for these convictions."
Sentencing is set for May 27.
The case was tried by Morris County Assistant Prosecutor Joseph Napurano and Assistant Prosecutor Reema Kareer.