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Relatives Accused of Aiding N.J. Suspect

April 22, 2003

FAIR LAWN, N.J. (AP) _ Four men accused of helping a relative flee after he allegedly killed a police officer and wounded another were arraigned Monday, and a fifth man surrendered in Florida.

Omar Marti, 23, allegedly shot the New Jersey officers on Thursday following a high-speed chase. Police later found Marti in Florida, where he was killed Sunday in a gunfight, authorities said.

A Bergen County Superior Court judge entered innocent pleas on behalf of four of the relatives: Ivan Marti, 29, a cousin; Victor Emanuel Marti II, 34, Omar’s brother; Victor Emanuel Marti, 53, his father; and Joseph Marti Jr., 36, another cousin.

The first three relatives face various charges for drugs, weapons and hindering apprehension and were being held on bail. Joseph Marti Jr. faces a weapons charge and a hindering charge and posted $10,000 bail.

Another Marti cousin, Emanuel ``Manny″ Birgnoni, surrendered to a Florida trooper and was being held in Sanford, Fla., pending an extradition hearing. Birgnoni, 26, drove to Florida with Marti, said Bergen County Prosecutor John L. Molinelli.

It was not clear if the five had retained a lawyer.

The chain of events began about 10 p.m. Thursday in Clifton, Molinelli said, when officer Steven Farrell tried to pull over Omar Marti.

He led Farrell on a high-speed chase and Fair Lawn officer Mary Ann Collura answered Farrell’s call for backup. Omar Marti stopped the car, ran, and shot the officers after a struggle. He got in Collura’s police cruiser, ran her over and drove away, Molinelli said.

Collura, 43, died and Farrell, 30, was wounded. Farrell was hospitalized in good condition Monday.

After a multistate manhunt, a sheriff’s deputy in Florida walked by the suspect’s parked car early Sunday. After another chase, Omar Marti came out of his car shooting. He shot himself in the jaw before the officers killed him, authorities said.

Prior to the shootouts and chases, three relatives had been trying to sell small bags of marijuana totaling about 4 ounces and with an estimated street value of about $1,000, authorities said.

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