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Combat veteran denied entry to PTI program pleads guilty

May 15, 2019

BRIDGETON, N.J. (AP) — A Marine combat veteran who was denied entry to a pretrial program after he was accused of punching a state trooper and charged with a weapons offense has pleaded guilty in both cases.

Mark Elwell’s lawyer hopes his client will receive probation when he’s sentenced July 8.

Elwell pleas to the unrelated counts came shortly after a state judge ruled that Cumberland County Prosecutor Jennifer Webb-McRae acted within her authority when her office twice denied Elwell admission to the pre-trial intervention program.

Officials argued the program is meant for those with lower-level offenses and isn’t equipped to serve someone with Elwell’s needs.

Elwell served in Afghanistan and saw combat as a machine gunner before receiving an honorable discharge in 2012. He received outpatient care from the Veterans Administration but was initially denied in-patient treatment.

He was later diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder.