Home Newark Press Releases 2013 Five Federally Charged with Gunpoint Carjackings, Attempts in Essex County

Five Federally Charged with Gunpoint Carjackings, Attempts in Essex County

U.S. Attorney’s Office July 17, 2013
  • District of New Jersey (973) 645-2888

NEWARK, NJ—Five men will appear in Newark federal court today to face federal charges for a string of gunpoint carjackings and attempted carjackings in Essex County, New Jersey, U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman announced.

As part of an ongoing joint anti-carjacking initiative involving investigators and prosecutors at the federal, state, and local levels, the U.S. Attorney’s Office works with the Essex County Prosecutor’s Office and other law enforcement partners to select cases appropriate to adopt from the state for federal prosecution. Federal charges typically carry longer potential prison terms and there is no parole in the federal system.

The five defendants, who have been in state custody since their respective arrests, are expected to appear today before U.S. Magistrate Judge Mark Falk.

“The wave of carjackings in Essex County is unacceptable to all who live, work, and visit here,” said U.S. Attorney Fishman. “As long as carjackers target the area, law enforcement will continue to work together to fight back. Federally prosecuted carjackers face decades in prison, with no parole, far from home.”

“As part of our ongoing effort to combat carjacking in Essex County, we are encouraged by this partnership with the U.S. Attorney’s Office to bring more stringent penalties to individuals who commit the violent crime of carjacking on our streets,” said Acting Essex County Prosecutor Carolyn A. Murray.

According to the federal complaints unsealed today:

Corey Thermitus, 21, of Newark, is charged with one count of theft of a motor vehicle by force, violence, and intimidation and one count of attempting the same crime. He is also charged with discharging a firearm in furtherance of a crime of violence.

On December 28, 2012, Thermitus approached a gray Honda Accord in the driveway of a Newark home, opened the door, and put a gun to the head of the person in the driver’s seat, threatening to shoot. Thermitus and accomplices drove away in the car, leaving the victim sitting on the ground. Later that night, Thermitus took the Accord to another Newark residence and tried to carjack a red Pathfinder from a victim with a young child in the car, shooting at someone who came out of the residence. Newark Police officers apprehended Thermitus shortly after midnight after his accomplice rammed a police car with the Accord, and the suspects fled on foot.

Edwin Ayala, 37, and Walder Morales, 21, both of Newark, are each charged with one count of attempted theft of a motor vehicle by force, violence, and intimidation and one count of use of a firearm in furtherance of a crime of violence.

On December 15, 2012, Ayala, wearing a ski mask, pointed a gun at the head of an individual sitting in a Chevrolet Equinox, and demanded the keys to the vehicle. After the victim dropped the keys, Morales came over to retrieve them and the pair fled with the victim’s car keys, money, and phone. Newark Police officers were able to track the phone to apprehend the defendants.

Lee Caraballo, 27, of Newark, is charged with one count of theft of a motor vehicle by force, violence, and intimidation and one count of use of a firearm in furtherance of a crime of violence.

On November 30, 2012, Caraballo approached a silver Toyota Corolla parked in the victim’s driveway, pointed a gun at the driver’s head, and ordered the driver out of the car. After also stealing the victim’s wallet and cell phone, Caraballo left the area with the car.

A Roselle Park Police officer caught Caraballo later that day in a traffic stop. Caraballo was driving a black Mercedes for which he could not produce the necessary papers. Police found a cell phone and keys in the vehicle Caraballo was driving.

Nathaniel Tullies, 19, of East Orange, New Jersey, is charged with one count of theft of a motor vehicle by force, violence, and intimidation and one count of use of a firearm in furtherance of a crime of violence.

On November 8, 2012, when an individual got out of a Chevrolet Impala to open a garage door, Tullies and an accomplice got on either side of the car, took it from the victim at gunpoint and drove away. The victim called police, who responded within minutes.

A Newark Police detective spotted the vehicle and a high-speed chase ensued, ending when the Impala crashed on the shoulder of Route 1/9, the suspects fled on foot and the detective chased and captured Tullies.

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The federal charge of carjacking or attempted carjacking carries a maximum potential penalty of 15 years in prison; 25 years in prison if serious bodily injury results; and life in prison or the federal death penalty if death results. The charge of use of a firearm in furtherance of a crime of violence carries a minimum consecutive term of five years in prison if a firearm is possessed, seven years in prison if a firearm is brandished, 10 years in prison if a firearm is discharged, and a maximum of life in prison. Each of these charges also carries a maximum $250,000 fine.

Defendants prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney’s Office as a result of the anti-carjacking initiative have been sentenced to significant prison terms. Recent examples include:

Defendant

Age

Charges

Sentencing Date

Sentence

Alhakim Young

23

conspiracy; theft of a motor vehicle by force, violence and intimidation; and use of a firearm in furtherance of a crime of violence

February 20, 2013

130 months

Jermaine May

29

conspiracy; theft of a motor vehicle by force, violence and intimidation; and use of a firearm in furtherance of a crime of violence

February 15, 2013

118 months

Jirrod Parker

25

theft of a motor vehicle by force, violence and intimidation; use of a firearm in furtherance of a crime of violence; and being a felon in possession of a firearm

January 9, 2013

150 months

Taj Elliott

24

conspiracy; theft of a motor vehicle by force, violence and intimidation; and use of a firearm in furtherance of a crime of violence

October 22, 2012

147 months

Jerome Conover

21

conspiracy; theft of a motor vehicle by force, violence and intimidation; and use of a firearm in furtherance of a crime of violence

August 16, 2012

181 months

Jahlil Thomas

23

conspiracy; theft of a motor vehicle by force, violence and intimidation; and use of a firearm in furtherance of a crime of violence

June 1, 2012

262 months

Amonra Jackson

30

theft of a motor vehicle by force, violence and intimidation and one count of being a convicted felon in possession of a firearm

March 28, 2012

120 months

U.S. Attorney Fishman praised the Essex County Prosecutor’s Office, under the Direction of Acting Prosecutor Murray; the FBI, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Aaron T. Ford; the Newark Police Department, under the direction of Director Samuel A. DeMaio and Chief Sheilah A. Coley; and the Roselle Park Police Department, under the direction of Chief Paul Morrison; as well as investigators in the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the investigation that led to the new charges announced today.

Fishman also lauded the other members of the carjacking task force—the New Jersey Attorney General’s Office; New Jersey State Police; Essex County Sheriff’s Office; Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives; DEA; United States Marshals Service; and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Homeland Security Investigations—for their continued commitment to addressing the carjacking problem in Essex County.

Regarding the federal cases with charges unsealed today, the government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Dara Govan, Elizabeth Harris, and Courtney Oliva of the U.S. Attorney’s Office Criminal Division in Newark.

The charges and allegations contained in the complaints are merely accusations, and the defendants are considered innocent unless and until proven guilty.