17 heists & 19 years

By Karen Zautyk

Observer Correspondent


A Newark man who committed 17 armed robberies, including heists in Kearny, Belleville and Bloomfield, has been sentenced to nearly 19 years in prison, U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman announced last week. The crime spree took place within a six-month period from December 2012 through May 2013.

The 225-month sentence for Bobby Dawson, 31, was handed down last Wednesday, Oct. 8, by U.S. District Judge William H. Walls in Newark federal court. Dawson had previously pleaded guilty to one count each of armed carjacking, conspiring to commit Hobbs Act robberies and discharging a firearm during one of those robberies.

In addition to the prison term, Dawson was sentenced to three years of supervised release and ordered to pay $72,518 in restitution.

The local crimes had occurred at Shoppers Express in Belleville, which was robbed Feb. 2, 2013; Krauszer’s Deli in Kearny, on Feb. 10, 2013; Krauszer’s in Bloomfield, hit twice, on Feb. 13 and March 29; and Belleville News & Food, April 17.

The other hold-ups were 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 hit, authorities said.

Kearny investigators were apparently among the first to recognize the pattern after two bandits held up Krauszer’s on Kearny Ave. at gunpoint, tied up the clerk and two customers with zip ties, and escaped with approximately $5,000 in cash.

Within days of that heist, KPD Sgt. Charles Smith and Det. Ray Lopez, noting similarities in the robbers’ descriptions and MO, had linked the crime to at least three others in Belleville, Bloomfield and Newark.

According to Fishman’s office, Dawson and his conspirators robbed each of the 17 establishments at gunpoint, taking cash, cigarettes and other items. In 15 of the heists, zip-ties or duct tape were used to restrain the victims.

In the robbery of a Maplewood store, Dawson fired a .380 caliber semi-automatic handgun at a clerk, but the man escaped injury.

The carjacking occurred on New Year’s Day 2013, in Newark, where Dawson and others brandished multiple firearms to subdue the driver of a Mitsubishi Gallant. Dawson was apprehended May 30, 2013, by special agents of the FBI Violent Crimes Task Force, which had taken over the case that month following investigations by state and local police.

The arrest was due in part to evidence from the April 17 hold-up at Belleville News & Food, 111 Newark Ave., where Dawson reportedly pointed a gun at the clerk’s head before fleeing with $2,000 from the cash register.

Security video captured the robbery and an image of the suspect removing his mask before leaving the premises, authorities said. In addition, the store’s video had footage of a man resembling Dawson apparently conducting a reconnaissance of the shop the previous day.

Two fellow conspirators have pleaded guilty in connection with one or more of the crimes. In August, Jamar (“Rhino”) Darby, 27, of Newark also received a 225-month prison term. Antwon Yarbrough, 27, of Newark reportedly was due to be sentenced last month, but no further information was available.

Among the law enforcement agencies credited by the U.S. Attorney for their work on resolving the case were the Belleville Police Department, Kearny Police Department and Bloomfield Police Department.

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