When Carlo Goias was cast for a bit role in a very low budget film he never imagined that one of the side benefits would be ten years of free room and board in a New Jersey prison.
Carlo Goias, whose stage name is Carlo Bellario, was charged under New Jersey's strict gun law. It requires permits for firearms, including the Airsoft gun Goias used while filming a car chase scene.
Goias rejected a plea deal offer Tuesday that could have sent him to jail for less than a year. He faces up to a decade behind bars because of prior felony convictions that prosecutors say include theft and burglary.
"I was shooting a movie -- I wasn't committing a crime intentionally," Goias recently told The Associated Press. "Robert De Niro doesn't ask Marty Scorsese is if he has gun permits. We're actors. That's for the production company to worry about."
Some state lawmakers say the case highlights the need for New Jersey to change its gun laws.
The permit law recently led to the arrest of a Pennsylvania corrections officer who lacked a New Jersey permit for a gun that was legal in his home state. The charges were later dropped.
Airsoft guns fire nonlethal plastic pellets. Nearly half of the states and many cities regulate the weapons to some degree, according to the San Francisco-based Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence.
New Jersey defines all non-powder guns as firearms, which require a permit to carry them. State lawmakers are pushing legislation that would give prosecutor's more discretion in filing charges under the statute.
This is just the latest episode in New Jersey's history of penalizing law abiding citizens for weapons related infractions.
We reported over a year ago on the case of Shaneen Allen, a woman who was employed as a security guard in Pennsylvania and had a valid Pennsylvania concealed carry permit, who was charged with felony gun possession because she had a firearm in her car.
As Christie was romping around New Hampshire (Live Free or Die, right) a Pennsylvania corrections officer was jailed for possessing a firearm for which he had a legal Pennsylvania license.
The district attorneys who make these charging decisions are responsive to direction from the Governor's office but, as far as can be discovered, Christie hasn't even bothered to issue a "if you act like an ass I will publicly embarrass you" type of instruction. For all of his talk during the GOP primary season about his support for the Second Amendment, Christie has done f***-all to reform the Draconian gun laws in New Jersey.