Judge denies gun permit for Sussex County pet supply store owner who was mistakenly kidnapped
A Sussex County pet supply store owner, who was the mistaken-identity victim of a kidnapping by five Missouri men, today lost his second attempt to get a permit to carry a handgun. Superior Court Judge David Ironson, sitting in Morristown, rejected an appeal filed by Jeffrey Muller of Frankford, owner of J&G Pet Foods in Newton, who sought to overturn last year’s decision by another judge in Morristown, Philip Maenza. Echoing Maenza, Ironson said Muller failed to provide “proof of justifiable need” to carry a handgun and said he should take his case to a state appeals court. Muller is also pursuing a federal lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Newark that seeks to overturn the decision.
In an interview after the hearing, Muller said he needs to carry a handgun because “there’s the potential” of the five kidnappers’ family members “coming after me to get revenge.” Authorities said the five Missouri men abducted Muller on Jan. 8, 2010 from his store in Newton, believing he was another Jeffrey Muller, a New York money broker. Four of the men were allegedly trying to help suspect Roy Slates recover $500,000 he had lost to the other Muller in a failed golf course development deal in Utah. Muller escaped from his captors after their car broke down in Lake Ozark, Mo.
Slates has been released from prison after pleading guilty and has returned to Missouri, while the other four suspects are being held as they await trial in Sussex County. During the court hearing, Muller’s attorney David Jensen said he pursued the appeal because Maenza didn’t hold a formal hearing and because the state police had approved Muller’s permit to carry a handgun, which normally would prove persuasive to a judge.
Afterwards, Jensen said he will continue to pursue the federal lawsuit but hasn’t decided if he will take the case to the New Jersey appeals court. In the earlier decision, Maenza said there was “no justifiable need” for Muller to carry a handgun, because his kidnappers had been apprehended and “there is no longer a threat of serious bodily harm.”
I highly recommend that Muller file an appeal with the Appellate Division. Since the State Police approved it, a Court would have a tough time arguing against them without any other evidence. It also assumes that these suspects will be convicted or that they can’t send anyone else after him. Hit sets a new standard that you have to be the victim of a crime AND the suspects have to remain at large.
Story is here.