FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
September 7, 2011
NEWARK, N.J. – Former New York Police Department officer Kelvin L. Jones, 30, of Yonkers, N.Y., who was convicted of robbing a Carlstadt warehouse of more than $500,000 worth of perfume while holding 11 employees hostage, was sentenced to 195 months in prison today by U.S. District Court Judge William H. Walls in Newark, U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman announced.
Also sentenced were two of Jones’ accomplices, fellow former NYPD officer Brian Checo, 26, and Gabriel Vargas, 33, both of New York – who each pleaded guilty last year to conspiracy to commit armed robbery. Vargas also previously pleaded guilty to one count of transporting stolen goods in interstate commerce – following a separate burglary he committed of a storage facility in North Brunswick, N.J. Checo was sentenced to 75 months and Vargas was sentenced to 60 months in prison.
Jones was convicted by a jury last December on all four counts charged in the Indictment – conspiring to commit armed robbery, armed robbery, possession of a firearm in furtherance of a crime of violence, and interstate transportation of stolen merchandise – following a two-and-a-half-week trial before Judge Walls in Newark.
According to documents filed in this case and the evidence at trial:
Beginning in December 2009, Jones organized and planned the robbery of the Carlstadt warehouse, to include conducting surveillance and “casing” the planned robbery site. He recruited fellow NYPD officers Checo and Richard LeBlanca, and former NYPD officer Orlando Garcia to participate in the robbery. Jones and these individuals, along with several others, had participated in an earlier robbery of a warehouse in Brooklyn in the summer of 2009, also organized by Jones.
On February 9, 2010, Jones and the other conspirators rented six moving trucks, some of which Jones had reserved under the name “Mike Smith” to avoid detection by law enforcement. Thereafter, the robbery crew raided the warehouse, some carrying firearms, under the guise of performing a legitimate police inspection.
During the raid, Jones and his crew forcibly restrained 11 employees’ hands behind their backs with plastic ties, and held them hostage for approximately three hours. To give the appearance of engaging in a police inspection, Jones read employees’ personal information from printouts that he obtained from the NYPD 46th police precinct where he was stationed. Jones also arranged for several other conspirators, along with day laborers hired to assist in moving boxes, to load rental trucks with thousands of boxes of high-end perfume and fragrances. Jones also directed the conspirators to rob the individual employees of their cash and cell phones, and to remove the warehouse security equipment.
Four of the six trucks brought to the warehouse were used to transport the stolen merchandise from New Jersey to New York, where it was unloaded into rental storage facilities. In the days following the robbery, Jones instructed the conspirators to falsely report their credit cards and driver’s licenses as stolen, and to dispose of items used during the robbery in an effort to conceal his and others’ involvement in the heist.
While detained at the Hudson County Correctional Facility in Kearny, N.J., Jones tried to convince LeBlanca to lie to law enforcement by making up a false story in an effort to clear Jones of involvement in the robbery, offering $100,000 in exchange for the fabrication.
In addition to the prison term, Judge Walls sentenced Jones to five years of supervised release, and Checo and Vargas each to three years of supervised release. Judge Walls also ordered Vargas to pay $215,899 in restitution for the North Brunswick burglary, and noted that restitution for all three defendants regarding the Carstadt robbery will be addressed at a hearing, currently scheduled for November 9, 2011. The prison sentence for Jones includes 135 months on each of the robbery charges, to run concurrently, and 60 months each on the gun and transportation of stolen property charges, to run concurrently. Those 135- and 60-month sentences are to run consecutively, for a total of 195 months.
U.S. Attorney Fishman credited special agents of the FBI, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Michael B. Ward, for the investigation. He also thanked the NYPD Internal Affairs Bureau, as well as the Carlstadt Police Department, for their work, and the Bergen County Prosecutor’s Office for their initial assistance.
The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Eric T. Kanefsky of the U.S. Attorney’s Office Special Prosecutions Division in Newark.
Defense counsel: Michael A. Orozco Esq., Newark