A stand-up comic and actor trying to break into show business is facing 5 to 10 years in prison because he ran afoul of New Jersey’s draconian gun laws by using a prop BB pistol in Woodbridge, N.J.
According to this story from pix11.com, Carlo Bellario responded to a Facebook post to play a gangster in a film called Vendetta Games, a low-budget production from Andre Joseph at Epyx Productions. He was offered the part just for the credit, no pay, and he took it.
Here he describes the video shoot back in November that ended with him in jail and facing up to a decade in prison:
“Our scene was a simulated car chase scene. We just drove around the neighborhood. I’m pretending I’m shooting with the recoil, with a pellet gun. I guess people in the neighborhood saw that. They call the police. We get back and we’re surrounded by cop cars!”
The production crew didn’t have a permit to film, according to the story. And because Ballario doesn’t have a carry permit, the state’s Graves Act says he was carrying an illegal firearm, a second degree offense with a 5- to 10-year minimum sentence in state prison, without parole eligibility for 3 years. Because of the Graves Act, a fake gun, an air pistol, or a spring-powered BB gun must be carried and stored as if it were a real handgun in New Jersey.
The story says the film producers didn’t help him at all, resulting in Bellario spending four days in the Middlesex County Jail until his girlfriend could bail him out.
Pix11 spoke to N.J. criminal defense attorney Tim Farrow, who said the state Attorney General recently issued relaxed sentencing guidelines for gun crimes in New Jersey, which may spare Bellario the mandatory minimum sentence for holding a BB gun.
“I owe money to the bail bondsman. Gotta see this guy every week. I can’t leave the state to do gigs. I can’t afford an attorney…I’m so embarrassed by this,” he said.