Why did Immigration and Customs Enforcement allow a Guyanese national, Whendel Stewart, to remain in the United States for 10 years after he was charged and convicted in the shootings of three Newark, New Jersey police officers? That is the question that remains after Criminal Immigrant Watch conducted a thorough investigation into how local and state authorities in New Jersey coddled a dangerous criminal alien, Bloods street gang member, and career criminal who was charged with multiple shootings, suspected of murders, and convicted of drug trafficking, carjackings, and robberies. We also determined that in a failed attempt to avoid deportation Stewart became a jailhouse informant for Newark, NJ based FBI Special Agent Corey Coleman and attempted to entrap and made false allegations against, among others, fellow Bloods gang members.
An arrest report and arrest warrants prepared by the Newark Police Department show that on October 14, 2004, Stewart, 19, a known gang member with an extensive juvenile history of shootings and robberies, stole a Mitsubishi Diamante and opened fire on three Newark police officers from the stolen vehicle. The officers shot were identified as V. Feliciano, H. Lorenzo, and P. Torres.
Three separate warrants for each officer shot state that Stewart “committed the act of aggravated assault on a police officer by shooting him through the rear window of a grey [M]itsubishi”. The arrest report goes on to state that Stewart was identified “by listed Officers as the person who did fire at them from a moving vehicle”. Stewart was also charged with unlawful possession and use of a handgun in the incident.
Shockingly, on June 24, 2005 Essex County Superior Court Judge Thomas Vena sentenced Stewart to 3 years of probation for the shootings and failed to inform ICE about Stewart’s status as a non-citizen who clearly should have been deported.
While on probation, Stewart continued to commit crimes and was eventually indicted again in 2006 for various carjackings in Livingston, New Jersey.
According to an Essex County Prosecutor’s Office press release, titled “East Orange Shooter Arrested”, Stewart was then charged with shooting a 21 year old in the chest on December 10, 2006.
Wendell Stewart, 21, of East Orange, was arrested by detectives from the Essex County Prosecutor’s Gangs & Narcotics Unit and the East Orange Police Department yesterday afternoon for his involvement in shooting a 21-year-old Irvington male while exiting a NJ Transit bus at Main and Winans streets in East Orange. The victim sustained a gunshot wound to his right side, between his chest and abdomen. He was transported to University Hospital for treatment.
The arrest occurred at Stewart’s 106 South Arlington Avenue home in East Orange. Upon entry to the home, detectives recovered approximately 76 grams of marijuana and various types of narcotics paraphernalia including scales and packaging materials and a handgun. The defendant was charged with aggravated assault, possession of CDS and possession with intent to distribute CDS, unlawful possession of a weapon, and possession of a weapon for an unlawful purpose.
On April 4, 2007, a 22 count indictment was returned against Stewart by an Essex County Grand Jury for drug trafficking and Stewart’s sale of drugs to an undercover police officer.
Stewart was eventually released again by the Essex County Prosecutor’s Office and arrested in October 2008 for being a felon in possession of a “9mm Colt semi-automatic handgun with 16 rounds of live 9mm ammo” and “one 9mm hollow point bullet in the chamber” and obstruction of justice.
Even in jail, Stewart continued to commit crimes. On October 15, 2008, while Stewart was being booked by Essex County Corrections Officer Kevin Skorupski, Stewart brutally assaulted Officer Skorupski “by punching and kicking Officer Skorupski” and “by striking him several times about his body,” according to two arrest warrants. An indictment for that incident states that Stewart acted “under circumstances manifesting extreme indifference to the value of human life [by causing] or attempting to cause serious bodily injury to Essex County Corrections Officer Kevin Skorupski.”
An October 2009 Essex County indictment describes how Stewart obtained a cellphone at the Essex County Jail and began making threatening calls and sending threats via text messages to one Vania Kahiga. According to a 2009 arrest warrant, Stewart made the threats “with the purpose to put her in imminent fear of death.”
While Newark and East Orange are notorious sanctuary cities, it is mind blowing that neither Newark police nor the Essex County Prosecutor’s Office reported Stewart to ICE and simply allowed him to walk out of jail after each arrest and conviction. Stewart also appears to have evaded ICE by using variations of his first name (Wendel and Wendell) every time he was arrested.
According an opinion by federal judge Hugh Scott unsealed on October 14, 2015 (“the Source” in the opinion refers to Stewart and “Stewart” refers to DeMario Stewart), prior to his eventual deportation in August 2013, Stewart became an informant for rogue Newark based Federal Bureau of Investigation Special Agent, Corey Coleman. In what turned out to be an epic failure, Coleman and FBI agents in the FBI’s Buffalo, New York Field Office had Stewart wear a wire in an attempt to entrap a Bloods gang member, DeMario Stewart (no relation), who was housed in the same immigration jail as Stewart. Stewart had apparently falsely informed FBI agents that DeMario Stewart wanted to hire him to murder a witness. However, when Stewart wore a wire in an effort to obtain incriminating statements, DeMario Stewart made no incriminating comments.
The federal judge excoriated FBI agents for their use of Stewart as an informant and faulted them for continuing to use him as an informant after he had engaged in misconduct:
The Government intentionally sent [Whendel Stewart] to talk to [DeMario] Stewart while equipped with a recording device. The Government deserves credit for giving [Whendel Stewart] instructions not to discuss this case with [DeMario] Stewart. [Whendel Stewart], however, ignored the instructions during the first conversation and discussed the nature of the conspiracy charge against [DeMario] Stewart. [Whendel Stewart] also tried to bait [DeMario] Stewart into confirming the identity of the murder victim at the heart of the present case. Confirming the identity of the victim would have required [DeMario] Stewart to acknowledge that there was a murder, which in turn would have forced Stewart to explain how he knew that there was a murder and how he knew the victim’s identity. [Whendel Stewart]’s conduct during the first conversation was as flagrant a mixing of old and new investigations as any that has ever prompted suppression of evidence. Additionally, while the Government deserves credit again for repeating its instructions prior to the second and third recorded conversations, it deserves fault for continuing to use an informant who so flagrantly ignored those instructions the first time.
The Public Affairs Officer for ICE in New Jersey was away from his office when contacted for comment. ICE did not comment.