FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
January 6, 2012
NEWARK, N.J. – A Newark man responsible for a gunpoint carjacking in the city last winter pleaded guilty today, admitting his role in the crime, U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman announced.
Taj Elliot, 23, pleaded guilty to a three-count Information charging him with conspiracy to commit carjacking; theft of a motor vehicle by force, violence and intimidation; and use of a firearm in furtherance of a crime of violence. The defendant entered his guilty plea before U.S. District Judge Esther Salas in Newark federal court.
According to documents filed in this case and statements made in court:
Elliot admitted that between November 2010 and February 2011, he conspired with others to commit carjackings in order profit from resale of the vehicles, to use stolen cars to carjack other vehicles and to take personal items from carjacked passengers.
Elliot also acknowledged carjacking a Nissan Maxima with others on January 10, 2011, in Newark. The co-conspirators approached the victim, who was standing near the car on Park Ave., and ordered the victim to surrender the car keys and other personal items. At least one of the co-conspirators pointed a loaded gun at the victim. Elliot and the others took the Maxima and sped away.
The conspiracy charge carries a maximum potential penalty of five years in prison, the carjacking charge carries a maximum potential penalty of 15 years in prison, and the firearm charge carries a maximum potential penalty of life in prison and a mandatory minimum sentence of 7 years for brandishing the weapon – which would run consecutive to any other prison term. Each of the three counts also carries a maximum $250,000 fine.
Sentencing is currently scheduled for April 16, 2012. The defendant remains detained pending sentencing.
This case was brought as part of a cooperative effort between federal, state and local law enforcement to address a spike in carjacking and related crimes in and around Essex County.
U.S. Attorney Fishman credited special agents of the FBI’s Violent Crimes/Fugitive Task Force, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Michael B. Ward in Newark; the Newark Police Department, under the leadership of Director Samuel A. DeMaio and Chief Sheilah A. Coley; and the Essex County Prosecutor’s Office, under the direction of Acting Prosecutor Carolyn A. Murray, with the investigation.
The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Jane H. Yoon of the U.S. Attorney’s Office Criminal Division in Newark.
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.
Defense counsel: E. Alexander Jardines Esq., Guttenberg, N.J.