NEWARK, N.J. - Two Trenton, N.J. men have been charged with a series of armed robberies committed in Burlington and Mercer counties, U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman announced today.
Samuel Matias Cruz, 33, of Trenton, was arrested today by special agents from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF), and Arturo Delacruz, 35, of Trenton, was arrested May 20, 2014. Both are charged by complaint with one count of conspiracy to commit Hobbs Act robbery. Cruz made his initial court appearance before U.S. Magistrate Judge Joseph A. Dickson today. Delacruz appeared before Judge Dickson yesterday. Both defendants were remanded without bail.
According to documents filed in this case and statements made in court:
Between December 2012 and March 2013, Delacruz and Cruz allegedly planned and executed a number of violent armed robberies of various commercial establishments in the Trenton, N.J., area, including gas stations, restaurants, travel agencies and money-remitting businesses. On Dec.10, 2012, Delacruz and Cruz entered the Sabor Latino Bar in Trenton. While brandishing handguns, they physically restrained five people by tying their hands with plastic zip ties. They allegedly stole approximately $12,000 from the bar’s cash register, and approximately $2,000 in cash and jewelry from the bar’s patrons. Delacruz and Cruz fled the location in a getaway vehicle driven by another conspirator.
On Dec. 29, 2012, Delacruz allegedly planned the robbery of the Woodrow Wilson Service Plaza Sunoco Gas Station on the N.J. Turnpike, located in Hamilton Township, N.J. Delacruz allegedly provided weapons and clothing to Cruz and an unnamed conspirator, which were utilized in the robbery. A Sunoco station employee was restrained with plastic zip ties while Cruz and the conspirator stole approximately $26,000 from the station’s cash drawers and register.
The Hobbs Act conspiracy charges with which the defendants are charged carry a maximum potential penalty of 20 years in prison, as well as a maximum fine of $250,000, or twice the gross gain or loss arising out of the offense.2
U.S. Attorney Fishman credited special agents of the ATF, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Stephanie R. Shoemaker; the Mercer County Prosecutor’s Office, under the direction of Prosecutor Joseph L. Bocchini Jr.; the Burlington County Prosecutor’s Office, under the direction of Prosecutor Robert D. Bernardi with the investigation leading to the arrests. He also thanked officers from the N.J. State Police, under the direction of superintendent Col. Rick Fuentes; the Trenton Police Department, under the direction of Police Director Ralph Rivera Jr., and the Westampton Police Department, under the direction of Police Chief Ricky W. Smith for their roles in the case.
The charges and allegations contained in the complaints are merely accusations, and the defendants are considered innocent unless and until proven guilty.
The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Dennis C. Carletta of the U.S. Attorney’s Office National Security Unit in Newark.