February 8, 2022
CAMDEN, N.J. – A Florida man today admitted assaulting two U.S. Air Force military police officers with his car, U.S. Attorney Philip R. Sellinger announced.
Hal Wander, 25, of Port Charlotte, Florida, pleaded guilty by teleconference before U.S. District Judge Joseph H. Rodriguez to an information charging him with assault on two federal officers using a deadly and dangerous weapon, namely, a motor vehicle.
According to documents filed in this case and statements made in court:
On Nov. 16, 2020, Wander drove his vehicle at a high rate of speed into Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, a U.S. military base located in Burlington County, New Jersey, without stopping at the designated check point. Two marked military police vehicles, driven by Victims 1 and 2, gave chase. Victim 1 positioned his car in front of Wander in an attempt to stop Wander, and Wander intentionally drove his car into Victim 1’s military police vehicle. Victim 2 positioned his military police vehicle behind Wander’s vehicle, and Wander intentionally drove his car backwards into Victim 2’s vehicle. While Wander’s car was stopped, Victim 1 reached into Wander’s vehicle and attempted to turn off the ignition. Wander then drove forward, dragging Victim 1 several feet before Victim 1 was able to disengage from Wander’s vehicle. Wander continued to drive his vehicle dangerously until he hit a utility pole, came to a stop, and was arrested.
The assault charge to which Wander pleaded guilty carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000. Sentencing is scheduled for June 15, 2022.
U.S. Attorney Sellinger credited special agents of the U.S. Air Force Office of Special Investigations, Detachment 307, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Nicholas J. Kaplan, with the investigation that led to today’s guilty plea.
The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Elisa T. Wiygul of the Criminal Division in Camden.
Defense counsel: Benjamin J. West Esq., Assistant Federal Public Defender, Trenton