Minutes before the start of their trial, a Lakewood man and woman admitted their involvement in a widespread cocaine network.

James Gadson (Ocean County Prosecutor's Office)

On August 12, James P. "Usef" Gadson, 47, pleaded guilty to a second-degree charge of cocaine distribution and Sharon Bowen, 33, entered a guilty plea to a third-degree count of cocaine possession with intent to distribute just before opening statements, according to information from the office of Ocean County Prosecutor Joseph D. Coronato.

Gadson agreed to as many as 18 years of confinement in a New Jersey state prison, with nine years of parole ineligibility. Bowen's plea entails probation, but prosecutors are asking for 180 days in the Ocean County Jail as a condition.

They were indicted along with several other defendants on the strength of 20 days of court-authorized wiretapping by the Prosecutor's Special Operations Group.

Some arrestees had already pleaded guilty to various charges and agreed to testify against Gadson while others had already been imprisoned, authorities said.

Gadson had faced a first-degree charge of leading a narcotics trafficking network, risking a life sentence with 30 years before parole consideration based on his record, authorities said.

Sources close to the investigation tell WOBM News that sentencing is likely to take place October 10.