Bill “El Wingador” Simmons took his first steps toward a state prison term Friday afternoon, looked back at his wife and mouthed the words, “I’ll talk to you soon.”
Despite a seven-year sentence for dealing cocaine, “soon” could be as little as 120 days, thanks to the possibility of Simmons’ enrollment in the state’s intensive supervision program.
The five-time Wing Bowl champ will have to be approved for the program, which his attorney, David S. Bahuriak, compared to “super parole,” but prosecutors didn’t object to the move during the sentencing proceeding.
“It’s our hope we can get him back here when he’s first eligible,” Bahuriak said. “He’s going to get a real taste of state prison, but he’s going to come home.”
The sentence was the same as what Simmons agreed to as part of a plea deal arranged this summer, which cut 13 charges down to just one, though his attorney argued it should be dropped down to three years prior to final sentencing, claiming Simmons had been charged too harshly.
“He wasn’t the Pablo Escobar they made him out to be,” Bahuriak said. “He wasn’t putting drugs on the street in vast quantities…this is just about as victimless as a drug case gets.”
Assistant Gloucester County Prosecutor Alec Gutierrez disagreed with that notion, saying the seven-year sentence was necessary to deter Simmons and others like him.
“This is not a victimless crime,” Gutierrez said. “It’s a serious, serious offense.”
Simmons was originally arrested and charged following a car stop where police reportedly found $8,000 worth of powdered cocaine and more than $4,000 in cash in his 2010 Kia Soul.
That cocaine could’ve made 1,120 “street bags,” which could in turn be sold for anywhere from $10 to $15 dollars per bag, prosecutors argued, with the dealing value pegged at up to nearly $17,000.
Bahuriak argued the cocaine—about 4.5 ounces worth—seized in the car stop was meant for Simmons and a longtime friend, who’d been turned into an informant by police.
“[Simmons] was made a target,” Bahuriak said.
Superior Court Judge M. Christine Allen-Jackson sided mostly with the prosecution’s arguments, though she credited Simmons’ cooperation with authority in imposing the sentence.
Allen-Jackson also made an allowance for Simmons to keep his commercial driver’s license, should he be admitted to the intensive supervision program.
Following the sentencing, Simmons’ wife, Debbie, said she was mostly feeling confused, wondering when she’d be able to talk to her husband again.
“I don’t know where he’s going to be or how I can contact him,” she said.
Though sentenced to state prison, the specific facility where Simmons will be held wasn’t specified—the closest state facilities are in Trenton, Bridgeton and Maurice River Township, all within about an hour of Simmons’ Woodbury Heights home.
Simmons, most commonly known as “El Wingador,” became a local celebrity after winning Wing Bowl five times, including three straight from 2001 to 2003.
In 2006 he became the Wing Bowl Hall of Fame’s first ever inductee.