Prosecutor: Monmouth Man Found Guilty of 2014 Armed Robbery; Could Face Life in Prison

A Monmouth County man has been found guilty of a 2014 armed robbery and could face life in prison due to a prior record, Monmouth County Prosecutor Christopher Gramiccioni said.

The Monmouth County jury returned the guilty verdict on Tuesday for Mario Figueroa, 40, of Asbury Park, in connection with an incident a little more than three years ago in Asbury.

The charges against Figueroa, which came after a two-week trial, are: 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.

The case background …

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, 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 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.

— Edited press release from the Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office

Retro RFH Basketball Cheer

Retro RFH cheerleaders of the 1970s
Photo/George Day

Yes, it’s RFH Basketball season. You’ve seen these RFH “ladies” before …

They cheered on the crowd and the players in that infamous 1970s student-faculty basketball game.

And they were such a hit, we’ve conjured them up from the past to cheer on some good weather. We’re hoping they can summon a slam dunk in brighter, warmer days ahead with those good looks, great outfits and tons of RFH spirit (of the past).

So, the Retro Pic of the (George) Day, honors the “girls” from yet another vantage point on the court.

“Hey, purple! Hey, white!”

Nothin like a gaggle of good cheerleaders from the past to get those sunny day vibrations going — or at least crack a smile on a dank day.

Recognize these gals? How about some of the teachers in the background? I spy Dewey Robinson.

Thanks, once again, to the fabulous George Day, for this priceless pic of the RFH past!

— Elaine Van Develde

Retro Visit from Santa

Santa comes to the Connor home in Fair Haven circa 1960s
Photo/Connor family

Santa has begun making the rounds lately. He’s been seen in Rumson, Fair Haven, Red Bank and is slated to arrive in Sea Bright soon as well as many other towns. It’s that time of the year.

But, what you may not realize is that Santa has made many house calls in the past (and sometimes in the present, too). It’s pretty common knowledge that Jolly Ol’ Saint Nick has been known to not only hitch a ride on the Fair Haven fire truck to make a grand entrance at the annual tree lighting or appear at the firehouse for those classic photos with the kids, but he has also been sighted on the firetruck and stopping off at some kids’ houses.

That little tradition started way back when with a few visits to good little girls and boys about town. House calls.

In fact, in this photo from the 1960s, Santa popped in on the Connor kids of the longtime Connor family of Fair Haven.

Which kids are these Santa gawkers? And how about that Santa. There’s one longtime Fair Haven Fire Department Ladies’ Auxiliary member who says this is her favorite Santa? Why?  Hmmmm … And who does this Mr. Claus resemble (or double as)?

Thanks to the Connor family for sharing this gem! 

Prosecutor: Pedestrian Dies as Result of Accident

A 53-year-old Monmouth County man has died from injuries sustained from being struck by a motor vehicle along Route 9 in Howell early Saturday morning, Monmouth County Prosecutor Christopher J. Gramiccioni said.

Continue reading Prosecutor: Pedestrian Dies as Result of Accident

Jamie Laughinghouse, USMC, Inducted onto Knollwood’s ‘Wall of Honor’

There’s a new photo on the Wall of Honor at Knollwood School in Fair Haven. Another former student is being honored at his alma mater for serving his country.

Continue reading Jamie Laughinghouse, USMC, Inducted onto Knollwood’s ‘Wall of Honor’

Focus: Getting Festive at Rumson’s Tree Lighting

It’s a tradition. Every year, Rumsonites gather, socialize, listen to some music by the Deane-Porter Third Grade Chorus and Tim McLoone & The Shirleys, dance a little, drink a little hot cocoa, nibble on some homemade cookies and celebrate the start of the holiday season with the tree lighting at Victory Park.

The tradition continued on Sunday evening. Spirits were high and all seemed to have a festive time.

Take a look … (and don’t forget to CLICK to ENLARGE!)

— Elaine Van Develde

Prosecutor: Former Hotel Owner Charged in Bribery Attempt

A former co-owner of an area hotel who has been charged in connection with an attempt to bribe a Belmar fire marshal could face up to 15 years in prison if convicted, Monmouth County Prosecutor Christopher J. Gramiccioni said on Friday.

Continue reading Prosecutor: Former Hotel Owner Charged in Bribery Attempt