FREEHOLD – A Monmouth County jury has returned a guilty verdict against an Asbury Park man standing trial for a 2014 armed robbery committed in the city, announced Monmouth County Prosecutor Christopher J. Gramiccioni.
Mario Figueroa, 40, of Asbury Park, was found guilty Tuesday of first degree Armed Robbery, fourth degree Unlawful Possession of a Weapon, third degree Possession of a Weapon for an Unlawful Purpose, second degree Aggravated Assault, second degree Witness Retaliation, and two counts of first degree Witness Tampering for crimes committed against witnesses to the armed robbery after the incident. Monmouth County Superior Court Judge Vincent N. Falcetano, Jr. presided over the two-week trial.
The charges stem from an Oct. 21, 2014 incident when Figueroa approached his victim on the corner of Main Street and Sewall Avenue. In an effort to steal victim’s wallet, Figueroa armed himself with a box cutter, held it to the victim’s neck, forced him to the ground and stole his wallet.
The Asbury Park Police Department Street Crimes Unit, patrolling in the area at the time of the incident, observed Figueroa running away from the scene of the robbery. After conducting an initial investigation, Figueroa was arrested for the crimes committed against the victim. While incarcerated pending trial, Mr. Figueroa encountered a witness to the robbery inside the Monmouth County Correctional Institution and assaulted him for giving a statement to the Asbury Park police, leaving that witness with permanent vision damage as a result of the assault. Figueroa then went after a second witness to the robbery, sending dozens of threatening letters to the witness in an effort to interfere with the witness’s testimony and cooperation in the investigation.
Figueroa had several disruptive outbursts during the two-week trial, resulting in Judge Falcetano ordering him removed by Sheriff’s officers from the courtroom. Tomorrow, Judge Falcetano is expected to inform Figueroa of the jury’s verdict in the case and to set a sentencing date in the matter.
Due to his prior criminal record, Figueroa is extended term eligible and faces a potential sentence of Life in a New Jersey state prison. Any sentence imposed will require Figueroa to serve 85 percent of the term before he would be eligible for parole, pursuant to the No Early Release Act (NERA).
Figueroa is also facing an additional term between 10 years and 20 years of imprisonment for the Witness Tampering charges, which must be served consecutively to any period of incarceration imposed for the Armed Robbery and weapons offenses.
This case was prosecuted by Monmouth County Assistant Prosecutor Martha Nye.
Figueroa is represented by John Sheehy, Esq., of Toms River.
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