Federal investigators claim that a New Jersey resident who was part of an armed robbery squad admitted to robbing five establishments in two states. U.S. Attorney Philip R. Sellinger stated that beginning in August 2018, 45-year-old Jaime Fontanez of Elizabeth and two others went on an armed robbery spree.
The U.S. attorney said the group was linked to 13 robberies across New Jersey and New York, including in Essex, Union, and Middlesex counties, the Bronx, and upstate. Two of the thieves entered the store with their faces concealed,
while a wheelman waited outside in a getaway vehicle, as described by Sellinger. He claimed that one robber pointed a gun at the staff and customers while the other rummaged through the cash register.
A botched robbery of a Bloomfield liquor store was the final straw. A lawsuit filed in Newark federal court said that the two tried to break into the register but were unsuccessful and were then chased away by staff and customers.
The robbers were able to get off one last shot as they ran. Fortunately, nobody was hurt. According to the complaint, Bloomfield police spoke with victims and witnesses, analyzed security footage from the business and the surrounding area, and located the bullet casing.
A silver Honda Civic used in the getaway was eventually linked to Elizabeth resident Carmen Abreu according to surveillance footage. They were both together during their subsequent arrest.
Abreu waived her Miranda rights and told police that she had been asleep at home throughout the robbery, while Fontanez remained silent. She also allowed police to inspect the vehicle,
where they found multiple pairs of gloves, Fontanez’s personal cell phone, and an E-Z Pass transponder associated with an account in Fontanez’s name. Police let Abreu and Fontanez go while they continued their investigation due to a lack of proof.
Fontanez was re-arrested when information was gleaned from his phone and E-Z Pass account; he was then charged with robbery, conspiracy, and firearms violations on several counts in a federal indictment.
Instead of going to trial, Fontanez accepted a https://www.ezpassnj.com/plea bargain and admitted guilt on several counts of the indictment. The sentencing hearing before U.S. District Judge Stanley R. Chesler has been set for April 26, 2023.
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The other defendants’ cases have yet to be resolved.
Sellinger said the investigation that led to the guilty plea was conducted by FBI special agents and was handled by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Tracey Agnew of his Trenton office and Shawn Barnes of his Criminal Division in Newark.
Besides the New Jersey State Police, he also complimented the local police forces in Bloomfield, Elizabeth, Kenilworth, Linden, Rahway, Union, and Woodbridge. Subscribe to Daily Voice Union and get the latest news without spending a dime.
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