NEWARK, N.J. – A Union County, New Jersey, man admitted participating in a conspiracy to commit multiple armed robberies from August 2018 to February 2019, U.S. Attorney Philip R. Sellinger announced today.
Jaime Fontanez, 45, of Elizabeth, New Jersey, pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Stanley R. Chesler on Nov. 30, 2022, to eight counts of an indictment charging him with one count of conspiracy to commit Hobbs Act robbery, five substantive counts of Hobbs Act robbery, and two counts of brandishing a firearm during the commission of a crime of violence.
According to documents filed in this case and statements made in court:
From August 2018 through February 2019, Fontanez conspired with a number of other individuals to commit 13 armed robberies in Bronx and New York counties in New York and Union, Middlesex, and Essex counties in New Jersey. The conspirators targeted convenience and liquor stores. After entering the business, one of the conspirators pointed a firearm at the store clerk while another conspirator went behind the counter to steal money from the cash register. On one occasion, one of the conspirators discharged a firearm into the liquor store.
The Hobbs Act charges each carry a maximum potential penalty of 20 years in prison. The brandishing of a firearm during a crime of violence carries a maximum potential penalty of life in prison and a mandatory minimum sentence of seven years in prison, which must run consecutively to any other prison term. Each count also carries a potential $250,000 fine. Sentencing is scheduled for April 26,2023.
U.S. Attorney Sellinger credited special agents with the FBI, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge James E. Dennehy in Newark, with the investigation leading to the guilty plea. He also thanked the Elizabeth Police Department, the Rahway Police Department, the Woodbridge Police Department, the Bloomfield Police Department, the Linden Police Department, the Kenilworth Police Department, the Union Police Department, and the New Jersey States Police for their assistance.
The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Tracey Agnew of the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Trenton and Shawn Barnes of the U.S. Attorney’s Office Criminal Division in Newark.