NEWARK, N.J. – Law enforcement representatives, including investigators and prosecutors at the federal, state, and local level, united today to announce the results to date of a joint task force initiative aimed at reducing carjackings and other crime in Newark and surrounding areas, New Jersey U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman announced.
Joining the U.S. Attorney in the announcement were numerous leaders of the law enforcement community, representing a commitment to a cooperative model combining intelligence and resources to combat violent crime in the state of New Jersey.
Those present included: New Jersey Attorney General Paula Dow; Acting Essex County Prosecutor Carolyn A. Murray; FBI Special Agent in Charge Michael B. Ward; Newark Police Director Garry McCarthy; New Jersey State Police Major Matt Wilson; Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives Special Agent in Charge Matthew W. Horace; DEA Acting Special Agent in Charge John G. McCabe, Jr.; Acting New Jersey Marshal Donald Rackley; Essex County Sheriff Armando B. Fontoura; and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations Deputy Special Agent in Charge Mark Witzal. In December 2010, Essex County, specifically Newark, experienced a marked increase in the incidence of carjackings. In response to the spike, the U.S. Attorney’s Office, the FBI, and other federal law enforcement agencies came together with the Essex County Prosecutor’s Office, the Newark Police Department, the New Jersey State Police, and other state and local law enforcement entities to form a carjacking task force.
The continuing initiative and related investigations have led to charges against 42 individuals. Nine individuals currently face federal charges for carjacking, and three face federal charges for related crimes. The state has brought charges against one of those individuals and an additional 22 adults and 8 juveniles for carjacking-related offenses, and is seeking to prosecute the juveniles as adults.
U.S. Attorney Fishman stated: “It is intolerable when violent crime holds our neighborhoods hostage. Our joint mission is clear: to take carjackers off the street as soon as possible, and to keep them off the street for as long as possible. If you’re thinking about carjacking, think again - you will get caught, and your punishment could include lengthy federal time in a prison far away from New Jersey.”
“People living and working in Essex County ought to be able to drop their children off at school or day care without worrying about being the victim of a carjacking,” said Acting Essex County Prosecutor Carolyn A. Murray. “That is why the Essex County Prosecutor’s Office has worked with our partners in law enforcement to tackle what is admittedly a very difficult problem. We are not declaring victory. We are simply reaffirming our commitment to prosecute those who have been arrested.”
Michael B. Ward, Special Agent In Charge of the FBI’s Newark Division, stated: “The success of this initiative is not measured in terms of arrests or other traditional crime statistics. Rather, its true value is reflected in New Jersey law enforcement’s ability to collectively merge resources and surge when necessary in the face of an evolving threat. The arrests announced today reflects the resolve of law enforcement to expend any resources necessary to address carjackings. Individuals who participate in carjackings will find they will be aggressively pursued and strategically prosecuted by a team of local, state, and federal law enforcement personnel committed to the task.”
Director McCarthy stated: “I am once again pleased by the success of the Carjacking Task Force, which is just one of many tools in our department to prevent and reduce carjackings. While we take pride in these figures and how they validate our efforts and strategies, they also remind us that we still have a lot more work ahead of us. We will continue to enlist the support of our citizens, clergy, and grass roots organizations to join us in our efforts to reclaim each of our neighborhoods as we work together to improving the quality for all citizens.”
Those charged in federal criminal Complaints with carjacking include:
• Amonra Jackson, 29, of Newark – charged on December 22, 2010, with one count of theft of a motor vehicle by force, violence and intimidation, and one count of being a convicted felon in possession of a firearm.
• Jahlil Thomas, 21, of Newark – charged on January 13, 2011, with two counts of theft of a motor vehicle by force, violence and intimidation; one count of use of a firearm in furtherance of a crime of violence; and one count of being a convicted felon in possession of a firearm.
• Reginald Anderson, 19, of Newark – charged on February 16, 2011, with theft of a motor vehicle by force, violence and intimidation.
• Gregory Brown, 19, of Newark – charged on March 11, 2011, with two counts of theft of a motor vehicle by force, violence and intimidation.
• Taj Elliot, 22, of Newark – charged on March17, 2011, with one count of conspiracy and one count of theft of a motor vehicle by force, violence and intimidation.
• Jerome Conover, 19, of Irvington, N.J. – charged on March 17, 2011, with one count of conspiracy and two counts of theft of a motor vehicle by force, violence and intimidation.
• David Jones, a/k/a “David Davis,” a/k/a “Nut,” 28, of East Orange, N.J. – charged on March 18, 2011, with one count of theft of a motor vehicle by force, violence and intimidation; one count of use of a firearm in furtherance of a violent crime; and one count of being a convicted felon in possession of a firearm.
• Maurice Williams, a/k/a “Mo,” 28, of Newark – charged on March 18, 2011, with one count of theft of a motor vehicle by force, violence and intimidation and one count of use of a firearm in furtherance of a violent crime.
• Jermaine May, a/k/a “Jungle,” 27, of Newark – charged on March 18, 2011, with one count of theft of a motor vehicle by force, violence and intimidation and one count of use of a firearm in furtherance of a violent crime.
The following individuals were charged with federal weapons offenses in connection with the work of the task force:
• Ronald Chambers, 23, of Newark – charged on January 19, 2011, by Complaint with being a convicted felon in possession of multiple firearms, after law enforcement, executing an arrest warrant for him on local carjacking charges, found him in possession of three firearms.
• Wayne Lewis, 22, of Newark – charged on January 26, 2011, by Complaint with being a convicted felon in possession of a firearm. Lewis is also facing state charges.
• Jamal Mainor, 22, of Orange, N.J. – charged on February 4, 2011, by Indictment with being a convicted felon in possession of a firearm. At the time of the arrest, the defendant was in a carjacked car in Jersey City, N.J.
The federal charge of carjacking carries a maximum potential penalty of 15 years in prison; 25 years in prison if serious bodily injury results; and life in prison or the federal death penalty if death results. The felon in possession charge carries a maximum potential penalty of 10 years in prison. The charge of conspiracy to commit carjacking carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison. The charge of use of a firearm in furtherance of a crime of violence carries a minimum consecutive term of five years in prison if a firearm is possessed, seven years in prison if a firearm is brandished, 10 years in prison if a firearm is discharged, and a maximum of life in prison. Each of these charges also carries a maximum fine of $250,000.
U.S. Attorney Fishman credited the members of the newly-formed task force with the investigation leading to the charges.
Regarding the federal cases, the government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Barbara Llanes, Jane Yoon, Fabiana Pierre-Louis, Dara Govan, Gurbir Grewal, Vikas Khanna and Adam Subervi of the U.S. Attorney’s Office General Crimes Unit. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Jose Almonte, Shirley Emehelu, Joseph Shumofsky, Andrew Pak, Jenny Kramer and Serina Vash also provided assistance.
The charges and allegations contained in the Complaints and Indictment are merely accusations, and the defendants are considered innocent unless and until proven guilty.
Anyone who has information which may be relevant to this case is encouraged to contact the Newark Division of the FBI at 973-792-3000 or the Newark Police Department at 973-733- 6309.