Donald Capriotti

Donald Capriotti, aka Donald Gardner

An Egg Harbor Township man paralyzed during a police chase in November faces 18 years in prison on unrelated drug and gun charges.

Donald Capriotti and his wife, Chinyere Gardner, were arrested Jan. 25, 2013, after an investigation by the Atlantic City Task Force led to their Robin Road home where police found drugs and guns.

Due to Capriotti's record — which includes an aggravated manslaughter conviction when he was 19 — police were able to use a "no knock" warrant, finding the couple at home.

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As police entered, Capriotti ran toward an area of the house where there was a shotgun, according to the charges. The shotgun had both the barrel and the wood stock shortened so it could fit in the sleeve of a sweatshirt or jacket.

Capriotti pleaded guilty to first-degree cocaine possession with intent to distribute and possession of an assault firearm during the commission of a narcotics offense, Attorney General John Hoffman said Wednesday. He also pleaded to third-degree crimes of eluding police and third-degree drug possession.

He faces 18 years in prison under the plea agreement, with 10 years of parole ineligibility.

Gardner, 33, pleaded guilty to the first-degree drug charge. She faces seven years in prison when the two are sentenced May 2 before Superior Court Judge Michael Donio.

The couple still has two outstanding cases, including allegations they beat and robbed a man inside an Egg Harbor Township motel. Their co-defendant in that case is jailed in an unrelated murder case.

Capriotti — who also goes by Donald Gardner — appeared in court Tuesday in a wheelchair. He was paralyzed from the waist down after being shot during a police chase Nov. 7, in the township’s West Atlantic City section.

Capriotti was out on bail when he allegedly fled a State Police car stop. Police had previously received a flier distributed to law enforcement only saying he was considered armed and dangerous, and had indicated he would shoot someone before going back to jail — including a police officer.

Capriotti fled on foot, and during the chase was shot several times by police. A township K-9 dog was also shot in the incident.

Since then, Capriotti’s bail was revoked. He is being held in South Woods State Prison because they are able to accommodate his paralysis, Deputy Attorney General Jim Ruberton explained.

The shooting remains under investigation by the Attorney General’s Shooting Response Team.

A tort claim Capriotti recently filed says he intends to sue for his injuries for as much as $27 million.

Chinyere Gardner is free on bail.

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Follow Lynda Cohen on Twitter @LyndaCohen

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