Middlesex County Prosecutor Andrew C. Carey held a news conference to announce that four individuals have been charged with taking part in a series of five home invasions targeting members of the Asian-Indian community.
Carey said charges were filed against four four residents of Houston, Texas identified as suspects in the home invasions in committed in Old Bridge on Oct. 20 and 26 and Nov 29, in South Plainfield on Oct. 28, and in Edison on Oct. 30.
Chaka Castro, 39, Juan Olaya, 34, Octavius Scott, 22, and Johnisha Williams, 19, have been apprehended and will be returned to New Jersey, where $1.25 million bail has been set for each.
Carey thanked the U.S. Marshals Service, the FBI, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, the New Jersey State Police, and and law enforcement authorities in Georgia, Michigan, New York and Texas for their work on the case.
The investigation was conducted with the assistance from the the Edison, South Plainfield and Old Bridge police departments.
Castro was charged with five counts of conspiracy to commit robbery, a second degree offense, with a count stemming from each of the home invasions.
In addition, her co-defendants have been charged with a series of counts arising from each of the home invasions, including first-degree robbery and first-degree kidnapping, second-degree conspiracy, second-degree burglary, second-degree aggravated assault, and terroristic threats, theft, criminal mischief, and hindering their apprehension, all third degree offenses.
The co-defendants are also charged with fourth degree counts of pointing firearms at victims in each of the robberies.
The first-degree kidnapping carries penalties of up to 30 years in prison upon conviction and the first-degree robbery counts each carry 20-year terms. The other second degree counts allow for 10-year prison terms.
The third degree charges carry five-year terms and the fourth degree charges have a penalty of 18 months in custody.
Carey noted that numerous law enforcement agencies and police officers participated in the lengthy investigation to identify suspects in the five home invasions.
Scott and Olaya entered each of the homes at gunpoint, restrained the families, and fled with stolen items in each of the five home invasions. They also threatened homeowners and smashed cell phones to prevent victims from calling police.
In all but the home invasion in Old Bridge on November 29, 2014, Williams waited outside the homes and drove Scott and Olaya from the crime scenes.
The investigation further showed that families of Asian-Indian descent were targeted in each of the home invasions.
In addition to the November 29, 2014, home invasion, the defendants were charged with committing home invasions in Old Bridge on October 20, 2014, and October 26, 2014, in South Plainfield on October 28, 2014, and in Edison on October 30, 2014.
Carey advised residents to be vigilant, watch neighbors’ homes and call police regarding any suspicious activity. He also advised residents to make certain their homes are secure.
The investigation is active and is continuing. Anyone with information is urged to call their local police, or Agent Selesky of the Middlesex County Prosecutor’s Office at (732) 745-3439, or Detective Marotta of the Middlesex County Prosecutor’s Office at (732) 745- 3331.
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