NJ Actor Faces Decade in Prison for Film Shooting

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By Ephrat Livni, Esq. on March 23, 2016 4:11 PM

An unknown New Jersey actor and comedian is making national headlines with a bit part in an unfinished independent film. But he's still waiting for his big break.Carlo Goias -- stage name Carlos Bellario -- faces ten years in prison for shooting a prop Airsoft gun without a permit during the shooting of a film in New Jersey.

The accused this week turned down a plea deal involving less than a year in jail, according to Salon. He is opting instead to fight the charges despite the fact that he faces up to a decade in prison for this crime, based on his prior record.

Stop the Shoot(ing)

Goias and a crew were filming "Vendetta Games" in a residential neighborhood. The actor was cast as the bodyguard of a drug dealer and was pretending to shoot out the window of a car for one scene using an Airsoft gun. The sound of real bullets was going to be dubbed in to the film later, in editing.

Casting on the film must have been great -- even if community relations appear to have been non-existent -- as neighbors got scared. Some people called the police. At the end of the chase scene, Goais and the group of actors were surrounded by cops.

"I was shooting a movie -- I wasn't committing a crime intentionally," Goias recently told The Associated Press about the incident. "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."

The Gun Law

Goias is not the only innocent to get caught up in New Jersey's strict gun law. The permit requirement for Airsoft pellet guns led to criminal charges for one Pennsylvania corrections officer as well. The gun he had was legal in his home state and the charges against him were ultimately dropped.

Not so for Goias, who reportedly has a criminal record. Due to his past convictions, this charge for shooting the gun on set without a permit puts the actor in a particularly awkward position, facing a decade in prison for an unintentional crime.

Goias already spent four nights in jail for the offense and is out of custody on $10,000 bail (or 20 percent of the total budget of the film he was shooting, which was reportedly $50,000). The story highlights the importance of prosecutorial discretion, especially when laws are strict.

Goias's defense attorney Jef Henninger blames the New Jersey gun law itself. "Our fight is really with New Jersey's gun law and the fact that we have person after person getting arrested and worrying about going to prison," Henninger told reporters. "There has to be a safety valve that prosecutors have, so these cases can be quickly dealt with."

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