An East Orange resident, Marquis A. Belnavis, has pleaded guilty to assaulting a police officer during a narcotics arrest in Toms River in 2021, according to the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office. Belnavis, who is 29 years old, entered his plea on June 5 before Superior Court Judge Kimarie Rahill in Toms River.
The guilty plea pertains to several incidents. In a July 9, 2021 incident, Belnavis was observed engaging in drug deals during police surveillance conducted by the Toms River Police Department’s Special Enforcement Team. When authorities pulled over a vehicle in which Belnavis was a passenger, they discovered he had heroin in his possession. During his arrest, Belnavis bit one of the officers on the hand in an attempt to escape custody. He was initially taken to the Ocean County Jail but later released due to bail reform.
Belnavis also pleaded guilty to distribution of cocaine in a November 10, 2021 incident in Toms River and in a series of incidents that occurred between July 28, 2022, and August 31, 2022, in Ocean Gate and Stafford Township. The latter offenses were uncovered during an investigation conducted by the prosecutor’s office Narcotics Strike Force, Stafford Township Police Department Drug Enforcement Unit, Ocean Gate police, and the Barnegat Township Police Department Crime Reduction Unit.
Belnavis has been in custody at the Ocean County Jail since his arrest on September 2, 2022. Under the terms of the plea agreement, the state will seek a four-year prison term for the July 2021 incident, a three-year term for the November 2021 incident, and a seven-year term for the 2022 incident. These sentences will run concurrently. Belnavis is scheduled to be sentenced on July 28.