New York Man Admits Violent Multi-State Criminal Rampage Involving Kidnapping, Assault, And Arson
NEWARK, N.J. – A Bronx, New York, man today admitted engaging in a violent, multi-state crime spree in which he kidnapped his former girlfriend, assaulted a federal employee, and set fire to a used car dealership, U.S. Attorney Craig Carpenito announced.
Luis Figueroa, 37, pleaded guilty before Senior U.S. District Judge Stanley R. Chesler in Newark federal court to Counts One, Three, Five and Six of an indictment charging him with kidnapping, possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, assaulting an employee of the United States, and arson.
According to documents filed in this case and statements made in court:
On the morning of June 6, 2014, Figueroa – armed with a shotgun – waited outside the Hazleton, Pennsylvania apartment of his former girlfriend, identified as “Victim 1” in the indictment. When Victim 1 emerged from the apartment, Figueroa physically assaulted Victim 1, including striking Victim 1 in the head with the shotgun.
Afterwards, Figueroa led Victim 1 to a red SUV, where he forced Victim 1 into the backseat. Figueroa then drove Victim 1 across state lines to New Jersey, eventually stopping at rest stop area near the Kittatinny Point Visitor’s Center, on federal property. After Figueroa left the red SUV to dispose of the shotgun in a nearby wooded area, Victim 1 climbed into the driver’s seat of the red SUV and drove away to safety.
After returning and discovering both Victim 1 and the red SUV were missing, Figueroa approached a National Park Service employee – identified in the indictment as “Victim 2” – who was blowing leaves. Figueroa led Victim 2 to a nearby storage room, where he slammed Victim 2’s head against a door and threatened to harm Victim 2 further if Victim 2 did not hand over Victim 2’s car keys. Victim 2 complied, and Figueroa fled the scene in Victim 2’s red minivan.
Figueroa drove Victim 2’s red minivan to Paterson, New Jersey, where Figueroa entered a used car dealership operated by a person with whom Figueroa had a business relationship. Figueroa asked an employee for a portable gas canister, which he filled shortly thereafter at a nearby gas station.
Figueroa then returned to the dealership, went to a small office building on the dealership property, and doused the structure with gasoline. After a brief struggle with a dealership employee, Figueroa ignited a match and set the building on fire, engulfing the structure in flames. Figueroa set himself on fire in the process, as well. Figueroa extinguished himself with a nearby garden hose, and then fled the scene in a white SUV.
Law enforcement officers searched for Figueroa and the white SUV, eventually locating it on the George Washington Bridge heading into New York. Figueroa ignored officers’ commands to stop, leading to a high-speed chase in which Figueroa rammed the white SUV into multiple police vehicles. At one point, Figueroa got out of the white SUV and fled on foot. Officers placed Figueroa under arrest shortly thereafter.
According to the terms of the plea agreement, if accepted by the court, Figueroa will receive a term of 26 years in prison. Sentencing is scheduled for July 19, 2018.
U.S. Attorney Carpenito credited special agents of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge John B. Devito in Newark Field Division, with the investigation leading to today’s plea. He also thanked the Hazelton City Police Department, the Luzerne County, Pennsylvania, District Attorney’s Office, the N.J. State Police, the Warren County Prosecutor’s Office, the Passaic County Prosecutor’s Office, the Bergen County Prosecutor’s Office, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey Police Department, and the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office for their assistance.
The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Jamari Buxton of the U.S. Attorney’s Office’s Criminal Division in Newark.
Defense counsel: Michael N. Pedicini Esq., Chatham, New Jersey