A suspected drug dealer was out for revenge when he made an unfounded call that caused Howell police to stop an innocent family, authorities said.
Frederick T. Esposito, 32, surrendered to face charges of causing a false alarm and making false reports to law enforcement, Howell Police Chief Andrew Kudrick posted on Facebook Wednesday.
The charges stem from a Feb. 8 report that someone was waiving a gun out of a vehicle window in a development near Bergerville Road.
Police stopped the minivan and discovered members of a family headed to a driving range who were carrying legally registered guns secured in locked cases.
The officers "believe the caller either embellished or fictitiously reported the incident after seeing the occupants loading the gun cases into the vehicle," police posted at the time.
"The firearms were properly secured and the owner legally possessed them," the initial report said. "They were in the rear cargo area of the minivan."
One of the people in the car was a special-needs teen, Kudrick said.
"That incident scared the hell out of him," the chief wrote, adding that his officers "handled that situation with compassion and professionalism."
"The next day, he and his mother came to headquarters to thank all of us. He loves the police. It's frightening to think what the alternative outcome could have been on that stop," Kudrick said. "All because a person who has no regard for the law or his neighbors decided to seek revenge against this family."
Kudrick did not say why Esposito was seeking revenge, but said Esposito previously was charged with marijuana possession and distribution after detectives searched his home on Feb. 27.
"Since the incident, Detective (Anthony) Romano made it his priority to find the person responsible for this cruel act upon this family," Kudrick wrote. "It was complex and required hours of reviewing information obtained through court orders, documents and conducting interviews."
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