U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman Joins In Announcing New Anti-Carjacking Public Awareness Campaign
NEWARK, N.J. – U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman joined Acting Essex County Prosecutor Carolyn A. Murray, Essex County Sheriff Armando Fontoura and Newark Police Director Samuel A. DeMaio today to announce the launch of a joint anti-carjacking public awareness campaign.
Aimed at raising awareness of the serious consequences carjackers face, the campaign will include billboards, bus placards and flyers. The message is that carjacking is a serious crime and those who engage in carjacking face severe consequences.
“Carjacking terrorizes victims and the communities in which they live and work,” U.S. Attorney Fishman said. “The penalty for these crimes is appropriately tough. Carjackers prosecuted federally can face decades in prison, far from home, in a system with no parole.”
“Carjacking is not the same as taking a stolen car for a joyride,” said Prosecutor Murray. “When you pull out a gun and demand someone’s vehicle that is a serious crime and the penalties are severe if you are convicted. We want to send that message to young people who sometimes seem to view carjacking as nothing more than a theft.”
All of the billboards will be up by the end of the day. Three are up already in Newark just a short distance from the Leroy Smith Building at 50 West Market Street.
They are located at:
- 4th Avenue and Broadway
- 61 Pennsylvania Avenue at the intersection of Parkhurst
- 97 Sussex Avenue
In the 1990s, Essex County led the nation in car theft. With advances in technology, increasingly vehicles are equipped with sophisticated anti-theft devices, making it almost impossible for an amateur to steal an unattended car. As a result, carjackings have been on the rise in Essex County.
For example, in 2009, Essex County had just over 200 carjackings. Every year that number has continued to climb. Recently, there have been more than 400 carjackings each year countywide. These crimes occur in the early morning hours and late at night. Sometimes they involve high-end cars, but very often modestly priced vehicles are targeted.
“Carjacking is the fastest growing and potentially the most dangerous of crimes against persons and property,” Sheriff Armando Fontoura pointed out. “This public education initiative was devised to warn that law enforcement has teamed up our anti-carjacking efforts and makes clear the serious and long-term consequences of committing such a crime.”
Newark Police Director DeMaio said, “The Newark Police Department has implemented several proactive and reactive initiatives to combat this plague including but not limited to joint task forces and specialized proactive units. In addition to educating our motorists on how to better protect themselves from would be carjackers, we are now endeavoring to educate the carjackers themselves. Lawmakers, prosecutors, and judges are taking these crimes very seriously and sending a message to criminals through stiff penalties for carjackings, some of which are prosecuted on the federal level.”
In response to the increase in incidents, a Carjacking Task Force was set up in 2010 by the U.S. Attorney Paul Fishman and then Acting Essex County Prosecutor Robert Laurino.
Since that time the Essex County Prosecutor’s Office has worked cooperatively with the U.S. Attorney’s Office; the Federal Bureau of Investigation; U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI); the Newark Police Department; the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement; the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives; the Drug Enforcement Administration; the New Jersey Attorney General’s Office; the New Jersey State Police; and the Essex County Sheriff’s Office.
Starting Aug. 1, East Orange, Belleville and Irvington Police Departments became a part of this initiative. Each department has sent officers to serve on the Carjacking Task Force. In addition, the Essex County Prosecutor’s Office continues to maintain a Special Prosecutions Unit. Three assistant prosecutors are assigned to that unit. It was established to seek swift justice in these cases.
In line with these efforts, the Essex County Prosecutor’s Office indicted eight defendants in recent weeks in carjacking cases. They include the following defendants:
Faquan Martin, 35, of Irvington, was indicted on 11 counts including conspiracy, carjacking, weapons possession, eluding and resisting arrest following an event on Nov. 20, 2012, in Newark. In addition to carjacking, Martin fled from the police causing a crash and creating a risk to the public.
Kalik Hollis, 19, and Andre Spencer, 19, both of East Orange, were both indicted in a seven-count indictment. Spencer is accused of carjacking someone in Belleville on Oct. 1, 2012. He is also accused of robbery. Hollis was indicted on knowingly receiving a 2006 Toyota Corolla. He is also charged with fleeing when the Belleville Police attempted to stop him.
Terrell Walker, 19, of Irvington, and Malcolm Smith, 20, of Newark were indicted for a Nov. 26, 2012, carjacking in Newark. In addition to carjacking they are charged with aggravated assault and robbery. Walker is also charged with committing another carjacking in Newark on Dec. 19, 2012.
An 11-count indictment was returned charging Donald Moore, 19, of Newark, Messiah Arrington, 19, of Newark, and Magid Wheeler, 18, of Newark with various crimes related to a Jan. 6, 2013, carjacking. Wheeler and Arrington were involved in the carjacking of a 2013 Honda Accord. Three days later Moore fled in the same Honda, resulting in a police chase.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office has been working with investigators and prosecutors at the federal, state and local levels to select carjacking cases that are appropriate for federal prosecution. Since the formation of the anti-carjacking task force, the U.S. Attorney’s Office has prosecuted 37 defendants. Last month, the U.S. Attorney’s Office announced charges against five Essex County men for carjacking and related crimes.
Significant sentences arising out of federally prosecuted carjackings, and at which federal Bureau of Prisons facility those convicted are serving their time, include:
- Jahlil Thomas (who is featured on one of the billboards), 262 months; serving his sentence in Beaver, W.Va.
- Jerome Conover, 181 months; Ray Brook, N.Y.
- Taj Elliot, 147 months, Coleman, Fla.
- Amonra Jackson, 120 months, Beaumont, Texas.
- Alhakim Young, 130 months, Inez, Ky.
- Jermaine May, 118 months, Bruceton Mills, W. Va.
- Jirrod Parker, 150 months, Inez, Ky.
The federal charge of carjacking or attempted carjacking carries a maximum potential penalty of 15 years in prison; 25 years in prison if serious bodily injury results; and life in prison or the federal death penalty if death results. Using a firearm in furtherance of a crime of violence carries a minimum consecutive term of five years in prison if a firearm is possessed, seven years in prison if a firearm is brandished, 10 years in prison if a firearm is discharged and a maximum of life in prison. Each of these charges also carries a maximum $250,000 fine. There is no parole in the federal system.
“We are encouraged by this partnership of federal, state and local law enforcement to combat carjacking in our communities,” Murray said. “Our goal is to let carjackers know that we take these crimes very seriously and that the penalties they will face are considerable.”
“In addition to putting would-be criminals on notice, we want to alert the public to be cautious,” Prosecutor Murray said. “Don’t leave the keys in your car even to run in and drop the baby off at the babysitter’s. Don’t leave your doors unlocked as you drive around. Be alert. Be smart,” she added.