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
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