Florida man with white supremacist ties set East Windsor car fire while making meth
TRENTON — Bail will remain at $350,000 for a Florida man with 27 prior convictions in two states and alleged ties to a white supremacist group who burned up a car while making methamphetamine behind an East Windsor diner earlier this month, a Superior Court Judge ruled Tuesday .
Richard Pearson, 40, appeared before Judge Timothy Lydon for a bail reduction hearing on charges of maintaining a drug manufacturing facility, aggravated arson, theft and destruction of evidence stemming from a July 10 arrest in East Windsor.
Assistant Mercer County Prosecutor John Boyle said Pearson, who is wanted in Florida and has 22 prior arrests in Massachusetts, was sitting in a 1991 Chevy parked behind the Americana Diner on Route 130 when police investigated.
Pearson, who was in the driver’s seat, was manipulating a bottle in a way that was indicative of the manufacturing of methamphetamine, Boyle said.
While talking with officers, he poured the contents of the bottle on the floor, which started a fire. Pearson and a woman in the passenger seat – Stephanie Dubis – were removed from the car, Boyle said.
State Police were called and they found evidence that Pearson was making methamphetamine in the car, which also was found to be stolen out of Florida, Boyle said.
Pearson has four prior convictions in Florida, including one for bail jumping. He has 23 convictions in Massachusetts, including attempted murder, aggravated assault, home invasion and bias crimes, Boyle said.
The state of Florida expressed interest in flying Pearson to the Sunshine State immediately on release from New Jersey to face charges there, Boyle said.
Boyle said prosecutors believe Pearson – who has nine children and two grandchildren — also is affiliated with the Hammerskin Nation, a white supremacist group, Boyle said.
Defense attorneys deflected Boyle’s assertion that Pearson was connected to the Hammerskins, saying that is “highly prejudicial and inflammatory.”
Caroline Turner, Person’s Defense Attorney, offered a different version of the events leading to his arrest.
Pearson and his wife, Stephanie Dubis, were traveling from Florida to Boston when they pulled into the diner for food and had planned to sleep in the car there, Turner said.
Pearson, an admitted alcoholic, had numerous bottles of alcohol in the car and he had hotwired the car battery to the radio. The combination of the alcohol and the exposed wires caused the car fire, which was accidental, Turner said.
“I know meth is combustable, but so is alcohol,” she said.
Pearson appeared by video conference from the Mercer County jail, and spoke just once after his attorneys argued that the bulk of his crimes were committed when he was in his twenties.
“I haven’t been in trouble in a long time,” Pearson said.
Dubis also was charged in the incident. A date for her bail hearing was not immediately available.
Keith Brown may be reached at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter @KBrownTrenton. Find The Times of Trenton on Facebook.