February 11, 2021
By: Tyler Eckel
TRENTON (MERCER)– A Trenton man has been charged with committing a string of armed carjackings and armed robberies, including the armed robbery of a commercial establishment in Trenton, Acting U.S. Attorney Rachael Honig announced today.
Joshua Perez, 22, of Trenton, is charged by complaint with one count of Hobbs Act robbery, two counts of carjacking, three counts of possession of and brandishing a firearm during and in relation to a crime of violence, and one count of possession of a firearm after previously being convicted of a felony offense. Perez is currently in custody on unrelated charges. He will make his initial appearance before U.S. Magistrate Judge Lois H. Goodman at a date to be determined.
According to the criminal complaint filed today:
Law enforcement officers investigated a series of armed robberies and carjackings in and around Trenton in late 2020. The investigation revealed that Perez, a previously convicted felon, and other individuals committed at least three of those armed carjackings and robberies.
On Oct. 10, 2020, law enforcement responded to a report of an armed robbery and carjacking of a vehicle in Trenton. The victims reported that they were exiting their car when three men got out of a white sedan, pointed handguns at them, and demanded their money and cell phones. Two of the subjects fled in the white sedan and one drove away in the victim’s car. The armed carjacking was captured by security cameras in the area. After the white sedan was found abandoned, a search of it revealed, among other things, a victim’s cellular telephone, and a latent fingerprint belonging to Perez.
On Dec. 5, 2020, law enforcement responded to a report of another armed robbery and carjacking in Trenton. The victim reported sitting in a car when two men ran up and pointed handguns at the victim. The men ordered the victim out of the car at gunpoint, stole money and a cell phone, and the victim’s car.
Approximately one hour later, that victim’s carjacked vehicle was used in connection with an armed robbery of a nearby Trenton gas station. Law enforcement officers responded to a report of an armed robbery in progress at the gas station. The victims reported that three males pulled up, one subject ordered them to the ground at gunpoint and pistol-whipped them. Another subject, later identified as Perez, entered the gas station, and robbed the attendant at gunpoint. Security camera footage recorded the armed robbery in progress. During a court-ordered search of Perez’s residence, Perez pointed a firearm at law enforcement officers. Officers arrested Perez and recovered the firearm, and seized other evidence linking Perez to the Dec. 5, 2021, carjacking and armed robbery of the gas station.
The Hobbs Act robbery count carries a maximum potential penalty of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. The two carjacking counts each carry a maximum potential penalty of 15 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. The three counts of brandishing a firearm during and in relation to a crime of violence each carry a statutory mandatory minimum penalty of seven years in prison, which must run consecutive to each other and to any other sentence imposed, and a maximum term of life in prison. The felon-in-possession count carries a maximum potential penalty of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
Acting U.S. Attorney Honig credited special agents of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, Newark Field Division, Trenton Satellite Office, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Charlie J. Patterson; officers of the Trenton Police Department (TPD), under the direction of Police Director Sheilah Coley; and detectives of the Mercer County Prosecutor’s Office, under the direction of Prosecutor Angelo Onofri, with the investigation leading to the charges.
The case was investigated as part of the Violent Crime Initiative (VCI) in Mercer County, New Jersey. The VCI was formed in August 2020 by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of New Jersey, the Mercer County Prosecutor’s Office, and the Trenton Police Department for the purpose of combatting violent crime in and around Trenton. As part of this partnership, federal, state, and local agencies collaborate and pool resources to prosecute violent offenders who endanger the safety of the community. The VCI is composed of the U.S. Attorney’s Office, the FBI, the ATF, the DEA, the Trenton Police Department, and the New Jersey State Police Regional Operations and Intelligence Center/Real Time Crime Center.
The government is represented by Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Katie Magee Lee of the U.S. Attorney’s Office’s Criminal Division in Trenton.
The charges and allegations against the defendant are merely accusations and he is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.