By Lauren Santye
Restaurant owners across the board put effort into perfecting their cuisine, but a local family-owned pizzeria allegedly likes to sell its food with a side of cocaine.
Angelo Esposito, David Esposito and Pamela Nalbone-Esposito own Nino’s Trattoria and Pizzeria near the Brunswick Circle in Lawrenceville. The restaurant is heavily advertised on Rider’s campus.
On Sept. 13, all three were placed under arrest after several complaints about narcotics being sold at the restaurant, police said.
Mercer County Special Investigations Unit led a three-month investigation on Nino’s. Police were able to obtain search warrants for both the pizzeria and Angelo Esposito’s and David Esposito’s homes in Hamilton. Officers with the prosecutor’s office, the county sheriff’s office, and the Ewing, Hamilton, Lawrence and Trenton police departments were all involved.
When the building was searched and Angelo Esposito was placed under arrest, approximately 11 grams of cocaine were found, police said. In addition to the drugs, a fully loaded 9mm semi-automatic handgun was found, as well as a duffel bag that contained $978. His 1998 Tahoe was seized during the raid too, according to Casey DeBlasio, public information officer at Mercer County Prosecutor’s Office.
Two grams of cocaine were found in the bathroom drawer, along with two shotguns, a rifle, a small amount of marijuana, a digital scale and packaging material meant for distribution, police said. Cash was also located at various locations in Angelo Esposito’s house totaling more than $7,800.
Angelo Esposito’s wife was placed under arrest, while his brother’s house was searched as well. In David Esposito’s garage, a black pouch containing 17 grams of cocaine was found, along with a digital scale and packaging material. One of the bedrooms contained $11,975, police said.
When David Esposito’s 2001 BMW was searched, three bags of cocaine were found. Authorities seized the vehicle along with his Hummer H2, according to police.
If convicted of the charges, DeBlasio said, the three could receive heavy sentences.
“David Esposito could face a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison, and Angelo Esposito could face a maximum sentence of 15 years in prison,” she said.
The wife could be facing a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison.
According to DeBlasio, Angelo Esposito is currently free on $75,000 bail; his wife was released on a summons pending court proceedings; and David Esposito is free on $100,000 bail.