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