NEWARK, N.J. – A Passaic County, New Jersey, man was arrested in connection with two armed robberies of pharmacies for prescription medication, U.S. Attorney Philip R. Sellinger announced today.
Antonio Rivera, 46, of Paterson, New Jersey, is charged by complaint with one count of interference with commerce by robbery, one count of attempted interference with commerce by robbery, and one count of using, carrying, and discharging a firearm during and in relation to a crime of violence. Rivera made his initial appearance before U.S. Magistrate Judge André M. Espinosa in Newark federal court and was detained.
According to the complaint and statements made in court:
In February and April 2023, Rivera robbed and attempted to rob two pharmacies in Paterson and Passaic, New Jersey. During these robberies, Rivera fired his gun and pointed it at numerous victims. Ballistics evidence shows that the same firearm was used in both robberies.
On Feb. 8, 2023, Rivera robbed a Paterson pharmacy at gunpoint, shooting one time and demanding Percocet, Morphine, and Oxycodone pills. One pharmacy employee placed mediation bottles inside Rivera’s backpack. Rivera discharged another round, after which another pharmacy employee gave Rivera cash from the cash register.
On April 5, 2023, Rivera attempted to rob a Passaic pharmacy at gunpoint, raising a handgun to a pharmacy employee’s head and demanding that the employee put money from the cash register in a bag. When the employee refused, Rivera demanded pills while pointing the handgun at other pharmacy employees and fired a shot before fleeing the pharmacy through the rear.
The interference with commerce by robbery and attempted interference with commerce by robbery counts each carry a maximum potential penalty of 20 years in prison. The discharging of a firearm during a crime of violence count carries a maximum of life in prison and mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years in prison, which must run consecutive to any other prison term. Each count also carries a potential $250,000 fine.
U.S. Attorney Sellinger credited the FBI Newark Violent Incident Crimes Task Force, Garrett Mountain Resident Agency, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge James E. Dennehy in Newark, with the investigation leading to the charges. U.S. Attorney Sellinger also thanked Passaic County Sheriff’s Department, under the direction of Sheriff Richard H. Berdnik; the Paterson Police Department, under the direction of Interim Officer in Charge, Maj. Frederick P. Fife; members of the Passaic Police Department, under the direction of Chief Luis A. Guzman; the Clifton Police Department, under the direction of Chief Thomas Rinaldi; and the Bergen County Prosecutor’s Office, under the direction of Prosecutor Mark Musella, for their assistance.
The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Sophie Kaiser of the General Crimes Unit in Newark.
The charges and allegations contained in the complaint are merely accusations, and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.