A Newark man was sentenced today to 360 months in prison for his role in the September 2017 armed robbery of a jewelry exchange in Elizabeth, New Jersey.
William Valentin, 43, was previously found guilty of one count of conspiring to commit Hobbs Act robbery, one count of Hobbs Act robbery, one count of brandishing a firearm during a crime of violence, and one count of conspiring to use a firearm during a crime of violence. Valentin was convicted following a six-day trial before U.S. District Judge Madeline Cox Arleo, who imposed the sentence today in Newark federal court.
According to U.S. Attorney Rachael Honig, documents filed in this case and the evidence at trial four masked bandits, led by Valentin, entered a jewelry exchange located at the Jersey Gardens mall in Elizabeth on the morning of Sept. 5, 2017.
Valentin brandished a firearm at an employee while the other conspirators unloaded the contents of the store’s safes into large bags.
Video surveillance showed Valentin and other conspirators entering the mall, approaching the jewelry exchange, and running out with the bags of jewelry.
The surveillance video released by police shows four armed suspects charging into the Jewelers on Fifth Jewelry Exchange at the mall at about 10 a.m. — shortly before the store opened. The robbers took a “large quantity of jewelry” and then fled on foot through the Burlington Coat Factory inside the mall, according to police.
At least one of the four robbers had a long firearm — possibly a semi-automatic TEC-9 — in the 9:45 a.m. holdup of Jewelers on Fifth, a police spokesman said, adding that no shots were fired.
Afterwards, Valentin and his conspirators drove away in a black Audi.
In January 2018, Valentin was arrested in Holyoke, Massachusetts, with a backpack containing jewelry stolen from the Elizabeth exchange in his possession.
In addition to the prison term, Judge Arleo sentenced Valentin to five years of supervised release.
The Elizabeth Police Department announced that it had warrants for Valentin, who was depicted in a November 20, 2017 Facebook post.
The Hobbs Act is a federal law prohibiting extortion or robbery by wrongful use of force or fear, or the attempt of these crimes, affecting interstate or foreign commerce. This 1946 Act was originally designed to target racketeering in labor disputes which were fairly common at that time. However, now, the Hobbs Act is a common statute used by federal prosecutors for public corruption and commercial disputes, but still used for cases of alleged union corruption.
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