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Press Release

Essex County Man Admits Role in Armed Robbery of Passaic, New Jersey, Club

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

NEWARK, N.J. – An Essex County man today admitted that he participated in a September 2015 gunpoint robbery of a club in Passaic, New Jersey, U.S. Attorney Craig Carpenito announced.

Jimmy Cooper, a/k/a “Flip,” 33, of Irvington, New Jersey, pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Madeline Cox Arleo in Newark federal court to a superseding indictment charging him with one count of conspiracy to commit Hobbs Act robbery and one count of Hobbs Act robbery.

According to the indictment, other documents and statements made in court:

In the early morning hours of Sept. 6, 2015, Cooper and two conspirators agreed to rob at gunpoint a club in Passaic. Cooper sent text messages to a conspirator’s phone coordinating the timing of the robbery and discussing how to smuggle the gun into the club. Minutes later, conspirators entered the office of the club, where an employee was alone. They brandished a firearm, threatened to kill the employee, and emptied the contents of an open safe into two purses that were in the office. The robbers ordered the employee to the ground and told him to count to 100 as they lowered the lights and fled in a getaway car stolen by Cooper and one of the robbers less than a week prior. The robbers led the police on a high-speed car chase through Passaic, Newark, and East Orange, New Jersey, abandoning the car in East Orange and fleeing on foot.

The Hobbs Act charges to which Cooper pleaded guilty each carry a statutory maximum of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine, or twice the gain or loss from the offense. Pursuant to the plea agreement, Cooper faces a sentence of 60 to 70 months in prison. Sentencing is scheduled for Dec. 10, 2018.

Cooper was originally charged with Keontrae Lawrence, a/k/a “Taz,” 30, of South Orange, New Jersey, and Shaheed Blamahsah, a/k/a “Aboo,” 30, of Newark, New Jersey, in November 2016. Both Lawrence and Blamahsah have pleaded guilty for their respective roles in the robbery and have been sentenced to 135 and 150 months in prison, respectively.

U.S. Attorney Carpenito credited special agents of the FBI, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Gregory W. Ehrie in Newark, and members of the Passaic County Prosecutor’s Office, under the direction of Prosecutor Camelia M. Valdes, with the investigation leading to today’s guilty plea. He also thanked the Passaic County Sheriff’s Office, the Passaic Police Department, and the Newark Police Department for their assistance.

The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Elaine K. Lou and Mary E. Toscano of the U.S. Attorney’s Office’s Criminal Division in Newark.

Updated September 11, 2018

Violent Crime
Press Release Number: 18-289