Guilty plea in local robberies

A suspect arrested by FBI agents earlier this year in connection with the armed robbery of a Belleville convenience store has pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court, Newark, to that crime and 16 additional hold-ups — including another in Belleville, one in Kearny, and two at the same deli in Bloomfield, U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman announced.

The defendant, Bobby Dawson, 30, of Newark, was charged with conspiring to commit robberies Feb. 2 at the Shoppers Express in Belleville; Feb. 10 at Krauszer’s Deli in Kearny; Feb. 13 and March 29 at Krauszer’s in Bloomfield, and April 17 at Belleville News and Food.

The other crimes occurred between Dec. 29, 2012, and May 20 of this year in Newark, Linden, Paramus, Maplewood, West Orange and Verona.

Most of the targets were delis, groceries or convenience stores, but gas stations, pharmacies, fast-food restaurants and a liquor store also were among the businesses hit, authorities said.

Dawson and his conspirators (who were not named in the announcement from Fishman’s office) reportedly robbed the establishments at gunpoint, stealing cash, cigarettes and other items. In 15 of the 17 robberies, zip ties or duct tape were used to restrain the victims.

In his Nov. 21 court appearance, Dawson also pleaded guilty to discharging a firearm, a .380 semi-automatic handgun, during the Maplewood hold-up, firing at a store clerk. Authorities said the clerk was not injured.

In addition, the defendant admitted involvement in an armed carjacking, Fishman reported, but no details were provided as to when and where that crime occurred. Sentencing is scheduled for March 11, 2014. The carjacking is punishable by a maximum of 15 years in prison; the robbery conspiracy, by a maximum of 20 years, and the firearms offense by a term of 10 years to life.

The Belleville Police Department, Kearny Police Department and Bloomfield Police Department were among the law enforcement agencies cited by the U.S. Attorney for their work on the case.

– Karen Zautyk

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