Indictment Charges New Haven Teen with Carjacking, Firearm and Conspiracy Offenses
Vanessa Roberts Avery, United States Attorney for the District of Connecticut, and David Sundberg, Special Agent in Charge of the New Haven Division of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, today announced that, on September 22, a federal grand jury in Hartford returned a superseding indictment charging TIHAJA ORTIZ-TUCKER, also known as “TJ,” 19, of New Haven, with carjacking, firearm and conspiracy offenses.
As alleged in court documents, on at least three occasions between March 2022 and July 2022, Ortiz-Tucker and others posed as interested buyers of motor vehicles advertised by Connecticut residents (the “victim-sellers”) on Facebook Marketplace. Ortiz-Tucker and his co-conspirators then arranged to meet in person with the victim-sellers for the purported purpose of test driving and purchasing the motor vehicles. At the conclusion of the purported test drives, Ortiz-Tucker and his co-conspirators stole, at gunpoint, the vehicles, as well as certificates of title, bills of sale, and other ownership documents. Ortiz-Tucker and his co-conspirators then posed as the legitimate owners of the stolen motor vehicles and advertised them for sale on the OfferUp online platform.
It is further alleged that Ortiz-Tucker was involved in two carjackings of Uber drivers in May 2022. In both instances, an Uber driver picked up the carjacker in New Haven and drove to Wallingford where the cars were taken from the Uber drivers at gunpoint. Both cars were later recovered in the same area of Hamden.
Ortiz-Tucker was arrested on a criminal complaint on July 22, 2022.
The indictment charges Ortiz-Tucker with one count of conspiracy, an offense that carries a maximum term of imprisonment of five years; three counts of taking a motor vehicle from a person by force, violence and intimidation (“carjacking”), an offense that carries a maximum term of imprisonment of 15 years on each count; and one count of carrying, using and brandishing a firearm in connection with a crime of violence, an offense that carries a mandatory consecutive sentence of at least seven years.
Ortiz-Tucker has been detained since September 2, 2022, when his bond was revoked.
U.S. Attorney Avery stressed that an indictment is not evidence of guilt. Charges are only allegations, and a defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
This matter is being investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Safe Streets Violent Crime Task Force, the Connecticut State Police and the Wallingford, New Haven, Hamden, Waterbury, and Bridgeport Police Departments. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Sarah P. Karwan and Tara E. Levens.
U.S. Attorney Avery encouraged those who sell and purchase items online, and need to meet an individual in person to complete the sale, to use a visible, monitored location. Contact your local police department to see if it offers a monitored meeting location, or search online for a nearby monitored location.