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February 11, 10

NEWS / Five Defendants Plead Guilty To Robberies In Paterson

TRENTON – Acting Attorney General Paula T. Dow and Criminal Justice Director Stephen J. Taylor announced that four men and a woman have pleaded guilty for their roles in two robberies in Paterson in 2008. All face state prison sentences.

The charges stem from investigations by the Paterson Police Department, assisted by the Passaic County Sheriff’s Office. The defendants were charged in a state grand jury indictment obtained by the Division of Criminal Justice Gangs & Organized Crime Bureau on Feb. 10, 2009.

According to Director Taylor, Laverne McDowell, 20 of Paterson, and Christopher North, 25, of Jersey City, each pleaded guilty yesterday afternoon to charges of first-degree robbery and second-degree conspiracy before Superior Court Judge Ernest M. Caposela in Passaic County. McDowell pleaded guilty to two counts of each charge; North pleaded guilty to single counts.

The state will recommend that each man be sentenced to 12 years in state prison, including 10 years of parole ineligibility under the No Early Release Act. Deputy Attorney General Mark Ondris took the pleas for the Division of Criminal Justice Gangs & Organized Crime Bureau.

The investigation revealed that on the night of March 3, 2008, North and McDowell, both wearing masks, got out of a car and confronted a man walking on East 18th Street near 4th Avenue in Paterson. The men demanded the victim’s wallet, and when he refused, one of the men drew a handgun and shot the victim in the face. The victim survived.

McDowell also pleaded guilty to a second robbery on Feb. 28, 2008, in Paterson. McDowell and another man, Raul Gonzalez, robbed a man after forcing their way into an apartment on Paxton Street. Gonzalez pointed a handgun at the victim and punched him the face, while McDowell took $40 from the victim’s wallet. Gonzalez, 41, of Paterson, pleaded guilty on Jan. 19 to first-degree robbery and second-degree conspiracy. The state will recommend that Gonzalez be sentenced to eight years in state prison, including nearly seven years of parole ineligibility.

Two other defendants pleaded guilty yesterday to acting as getaway drivers in the robberies. Elsa Saez, 20, of Paterson, pleaded guilty to second-degree theft and third-degree conspiracy in connection with the March 3 robbery. Eric Rivera, 40, of Paterson, pleaded guilty to third-degree conspiracy in connection with the Feb. 28 robbery. The state will recommend that Saez and Rivera each be sentenced to five years in state prison.

Judge Caposela scheduled the defendants for sentencing on the following dates: Gonzalez on Feb. 19; McDowell, North and Rivera on April 16; and Saez on May 7.

Detective Ador Flores of the Paterson Police Department led the investigation into the March 3 robbery, and Detective Jimmy Maldonado of the Paterson Police Department led the investigation into the Feb. 28 robbery. They conducted the investigations with Detective Richard DeJesus, Detective Sgt. Patrick Murray, Detective Sgt. Douglas Romary and Detective Edial Lugo of the Paterson Police Department, and Cpl. Joseph Zughbi from the Passaic County Sheriff’s Office. Additional Paterson police officers provided assistance.




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