New Jersey man arrested for what prosecutors call ‘reconnaissance’ of George Washington Bridge
A New Jersey man is being held on forgery, theft and weapons charges after attempting to gain access to a restricted entrance of the George Washington Bridge, according to New Jersey court records.
Daniel Czerepak, 29, was arrested by Port Authority of New York and New Jersey Police following an attempt to gain access to the bridge, which connects New Jersey to Manhattan Island, with a fake ID while posing as a Port Authority subcontractor.
A subsequent search of Czerepak’s home turned up five 30-round rifle magazines and one 15-round magazine. New Jersey law limits magazine capacity to 10 rounds of ammunition.
Authorities said Czerepak has pleaded not guilty to third-degree weapons offenses and other related charges, according to northjersey.com. An attorney for Czerepak did not immediately respond to request for comment.
CNN affiliate News 12 New Jersey reported that Czerepak was previously a captain in the US Army. The Army did not immediately confirm Czerepak’s service to CNN.
Assistant Bergen County Prosecutor Christine Gorzelany characterized Czerepak’s attempt in a Monday court hearing as part of a pattern, northjersey.com reported.
“When you put the pieces together, a picture emerges,” Gorzelany said. “And this picture is frankly terrifying.”
“He’s conducting reconnaissance, he’s learning with each approach to the bridge, and he’s keeping track of what he’s learning,” Gorzelany said.
Czerepak was stopped September 19 at a private access point on the New Jersey side of the bridge, a source familiar with the investigation told CNN on Wednesday. The access point was guarded by a private security firm, which called the police when Czerepak showed a fake ID.
The source told CNN that police arrested Czerepak for “theft of service,” a charge typically associated with evading the bridge fare.
Following his arrest, police searched his car. The source told CNN the search turned up multiple fake IDs, a fake identification placard for his car and work clothes. Court records state two stolen license plates were also found in the vehicle.
Based on that search, police executed a search of Czerepak’s Wallington, New Jersey, home September 23. Court records indicate the search yielded the six magazines, in addition to a set of golf clubs believed to be stolen.
A source familiar with the investigation told CNN that Czerepak was known to New Jersey State Park Police because he had previously gained access to Liberty Science Center in Jersey City.