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Press Release

Essex County Convicted Felon Admits Involvement in Two Shootings, Possessing Firearm with Extended Magazine, and Possessing Heroin with Intent to Distribute

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, District of New Jersey

NEWARK, N.J. – An Essex County, New Jersey, man admitted his involvement in two shootings, as well as illegally possessing a handgun and possessing heroin he intended to distribute, U.S. Attorney Philip R. Sellinger announced today.

Antoine Hawkins, 31, of Newark, pleaded guilty on Nov. 28, 2023, before U.S. District Judge Katharine S. Hayden to an indictment charging him with two counts of possession of ammunition by a convicted felon, one count of possession of a firearm and ammunition by a convicted felon, one count of possession with intent to distribute heroin, and one count of possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime.

According to documents filed in this case and statements made in court:

On Aug. 18, 2020, video surveillance footage depicted Hawkins as he fired a gun on a Newark street, striking a victim, who survived the shooting. Hawkins was also identified as the perpetrator of another shooting in Newark on Aug. 13, 2020, and cartridge casings from the locations of both shootings were a ballistics match.

On Sept. 16, 2020, law enforcement encountered Hawkins and observed what appeared to be a firearm in Hawkins’s jacket. A subsequent search of Hawkins revealed a 9-millimeter pistol, which was loaded in an extended magazine containing 19 rounds of ammunition.

A search warrant executed at Hawkins’s residence revealed, among other items, 626 glassine envelopes containing heroin and three 9-millimeter magazines.

The firearm and ammunition offenses carry maximum potential penalties of 10 years in prison, and fines of $250,000. The count of possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime carries a statutory mandatory minimum penalty of five years in prison – which must run consecutively to any other sentence Hawkins receives – and a maximum potential penalty of life in prison. The narcotics offense carries a maximum potential penalty of 20 years in prison, and a fine of $1 million. Sentencing is scheduled for April 2, 2024.

U.S. Attorney Sellinger credited the Essex County Prosecutor’s Office, under the direction of Acting Prosecutor Theodore N. Stephens II; members of the Newark Department of Public Safety, under the direction of Director Fritz G. Fragé; members of the Drug Enforcement Administration, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Cheryl Ortiz; and special agents of Homeland Security Investigations Newark, under the direction of Acting Special Agent in Charge Michael Alfonso, with the investigation leading to the charges.

This investigation is part of the Violent Crime Initiative (VCI) in Newark. The Newark VCI was formed in August 2017 by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of New Jersey, the Essex County Prosecutor’s Office, and the City of Newark’s Department of Public Safety for the sole purpose of combatting violent crime in and around the Newark. As part of this partnership, federal, state, county, and city agencies collaborate and pool resources to prosecute violent offenders who endanger the safety of the community. The VCI includes the U.S. Attorney’s Office, the DEA, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the U.S. Marshals, the Newark Department of Public Safety, the Essex County Prosecutor’s Office, the Essex County Sheriff’s Office, New Jersey State Parole Board, New Jersey State Police Regional Operations and Intelligence Center/Real Time Crime Center, and New Jersey Department of Corrections.

The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Benjamin Levin of the U.S. Attorney’s Office National Security Unit in Newark.


Updated December 1, 2023

Drug Trafficking
Firearms Offenses
Violent Crime
Press Release Number: 23-355