Member Of Armed Robbery Crew Sentenced In Connection With Middlesex County Thefts

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NEWARK – Joseph Passalaqua, member of an armed robbery crew that primarily targeted businesses and homes in Middlesex County, was sentenced today to more than 15 years in prison, U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman announced.

Passalaqua, 56, of East Brunswick, had pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Faith S. Hochberg on Dec. 7, 2010, to one count of conspiring to obstruct commerce in connection with his role in robbing three premises between March 2009 and June 2009. He was sentenced to 190 months in prison by Hochberg in Newark federal court.

According to documents filed in this case and statements made in court: Passalaqua admitted he conspired with others, including Jonah Paul, 23, of Sayreville; Raffaele Danise, 25, of East Brunswick; Joseph Smith, 39, of South Amboy; Dustin Groemm, 24, of Perth Amboy; Rashawn Landin, 24, of Parlin; Brian Parolin, 30, of Freehold; Erik Prascak, 22, of Milltown; and Joshua Lally, 24, of Middlesex Township, to rob a number of premises located in New Jersey and New York from March 2009 through June 2009.

Passalaqua admitted he and certain of his co-conspirators robbed: the Ristorante Barolo in New York on May 11, 2009; the home of victims “M.M.” and “P.M.” in Milltown, on May 21, 2009; and the Ritz Diner in Livingston, on June 5, 2009. Each of the robberies was at gunpoint, and in each case, the victims were bound with plastic zip ties while the robberies took place.

In addition to the prison term, Hochberg sentenced Passalaqua to three years of supervised release. Passalaqua was fined $5,000 and ordered to pay restitution in an amount to be determined at a later date.

All of the defendants have previously pleaded guilty. Groemm and Parolin were sentenced by Judge Hochberg on June 22. Groemm was sentenced to 75 months in prison, three years of supervised release and ordered to make restitution of $20,894. Parolin was sentenced to 79 months in prison, three years supervised release and fined $3,000. Paul and Landin were sentenced by Hochberg on Sept. 27. Paul was sentenced to 219 months in prison, five years of supervised release, and ordered to make restitution in an amount to be determined at a later date. Landin was sentenced to 108 months in prison, three years of supervised release, fined $1,000 and ordered to pay $46,578 in restitution. Lally was sentenced by Hochberg on Sept. 29. Lally was sentenced to 33 months in prison, two years of supervised release, fined $10,000 and ordered to pay $151,317 in restitution. The remaining defendants await sentencing.

U.S. Attorney Fishman credited special agents of the FBI, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Michael B. Ward in Newark, for conducting the investigation. He also thanked the Middlesex County Prosecutor’s Office, under the direction of Bruce J. Kaplan, the Woodbridge Police Department, under the direction of Director Robert Hubner, the Sayreville Police Department, under the direction of Chief John Zebrowski, and the Milltown Police Department, under the direction of Chief Ray Geipel, for their assistance.


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