A Monmouth County man with an extensive criminal record was sentenced on Friday to 65 years in a New Jersey state prison in connection with a 2014 Asbury Park armed robbery and witness tampering related to the crime, Prosecutor Christopher J. Gramiccioni said.
Mario Figueroa, 44, of Asbury Park, was found guilty in December following a two-week trial before Monmouth County Superior Court Judge Vincent N. Falcetano, Jr.
A Monmouth County jury convicted him 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 the victim and witnesses of the armed robbery after the incident.
Figueroa had several disruptive outbursts during the two-week trial, resulting in Judge Falcetano ordering him removed from the courtroom by sheriff’s officers.
Due to his prior criminal record, Figueroa was extended term eligible which included a potential sentence exposure of life in a New Jersey state prison.
A 30-year sentence for the armed robbery requires Figueroa to serve 85 percent of the prison term before he is eligible for parole, pursuant to the No Early Release Act (NERA). He also was sentenced to two additional prison terms of 20 and 15 years, respectively, for each of the witness tampering charges, which must be served consecutive to each other and the 30-year sentence imposed for the armed robbery charge. The aggregate total sentence is 65 years.
The case background …
The case stems 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.
Detective Sean DeShader of 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.
This case was prosecuted by Monmouth County Assistant Prosecutor Martha Nye.
Figueroa is represented by John Sheehy, Esq., of Toms River.