Hudson County Prosecutor Esther Suarez has announced that Gregorio Martinez, age 49, a fugitive from justice who was a pastor and a deacon at several churches in Hudson County, was returned to New Jersey today and is now in custody at the Hudson County Correctional Facility. His first court appearance is scheduled for tomorrow, Friday, December 23, 2016 in front of Superior Court Judge John Young, Jr. at 10 a.m.
In February 2015, Martinez was tried by a Hudson County jury for sexual offenses against a 13- year-old male parishioner of his church. On February 25, 2015, after less than 30 minutes of deliberations, the jury convicted Martinez on all counts in the indictment. Martinez was charged with one count of Aggravated Criminal Sexual Contact in violation of N.J.S.2C:14-3(a); one count of Endangering the Welfare of a Child in violation of N.J.S.2C:24-4(a); and one count of Child Abuse in violation of N.J.S.9:6-1 and N.J.S.9:6-3.
Prior to jury selection in this case, the Hudson County Prosecutor’s Office filed additional sexual assault charges against Martinez for sexually assaulting a 19-year-old male who attended the church he pastored. Following the jury verdict in the initial case, the Prosecutor’s Office filed sexual assault charges against Martinez for offenses committed against two additional 19-year- old men that he spiritually counseled.
Martinez failed to appear for a mandatory Pre-Sentence Interview following his conviction in the initial case and he fled the country. During Martinez’ run from authorities, he was traced through Panama, Guatemala, Nicaragua and Honduras.
The fugitive defendant was detained by Honduran Law Enforcement officials in Danli, Honduras on August 16, 2016, culminating an 18-month search by law enforcement involving collaboration between the Hudson County Prosecutor’s Office and multiple federal agencies. Martinez was returned to the United States on August 20, 2016, at which time U.S. Customs and Border Patrol Agents took custody of him from U.S. Marshals and Honduran government agents
in Miami, FL. Martinez has been detained in Florida awaiting extradition to New Jersey since August.
“This investigation involved the teamwork of several law enforcement partners and our Fugitive Unit detectives and we are appreciative of the tenacious effort and dedication which led to his apprehension,” said Suarez. “It has been a long process to return him to Hudson County, but we will now see that justice is done for the victims and their families.”
Suarez specifically thanked the U.S. Marshals International Investigations Branch, the U.S. Department of State Diplomatic Security Services, INTERPOL, the Miami Field Office of U.S. Custom and Border Patrol and Honduran Law Enforcement officials for their assistance.
Prosecutor Suarez noted that Hudson County Prosecutor’s Office detectives Sergio Herrera, Daniel Bellini, Veronica Sarmiento, Raquel Krause and Assistant Prosecutor Linda Claude-Oben demonstrated determination in tracking down Martinez.
Martinez, who was born in the Dominican Republic, will now be sentenced for his conviction on sexual offenses against the 13-year-old male in the original trial and he will also stand trial on the additional sexual assault charges filed by the Hudson County Prosecutor’s Office in 2015.
The additional charges against the defendant are merely accusations, and the defendant is presumed innocent of those charges until proven guilty. R.P.C. 3.6(b)(6)