A 45-year-old Union County man has admitted to taking part in a string of armed robberies at convenience and liquor stores in New Jersey and New York, according to U.S. Attorney Philip Sellinger.
Jaime Fontanez, of Elizabeth, pleaded guilty in Newark federal court on Wednesday to charges stemming from the crimes between August 2018 and February 2019.
He and at least two other men plotted and carried out 13 robberies at gunpoint in Union, Middlesex, and Essex counties as well as in Bronx and New York counties, according to federal prosecutors and court documents.
On one occasion, a gun was fired in one of the liquor stores.
Fontanez pleaded guilty to five counts of Hobbs Act robbery, conspiracy to commit Hobbs Act robbery and two counts of brandishing a firearm during a violent crime.
When sentenced in April 2023, he faces up to 20 years in prison on each Hobbs Act charge, alone, as well as total massive fines.
Sellinger credited special agents with the FBI Newark Office for leading the investigation, with help from local police forces in Elizabeth, Rahway, Linden, Kenilworth, Union, Woodbridge, Bloomfield and the State Police.
Erin Vogt is a reporter and anchor for New Jersey 101.5. You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org
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