Union Township man admits conspiring to burglarize Asian homeowners

A Union County, New Jersey, man today admitted his role in a conspiracy that targeted Asian and Asian-American homeowners for residential burglaries.

Randi Barr, 41, of Vauxhall, New Jersey, pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Evelyn Padin in Newark federal court to an information charging him with one count of conspiracy to commit interstate transportation of stolen property. 

According to U.S. Attorney Philip R. Sellinger, documents filed in this case and statements made in court, Barr and others participated in a conspiracy to burglarize the residences of certain Asian small business owners living in New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, and Delaware.

From Dec. 2, 2016, to March 20, 2019, they robbed large sums of money, valuable jewelry, and other items, and then transport the stolen goods in interstate commerce, including to Barr’s residences in New Jersey and Pennsylvania.

The charge of conspiracy to commit interstate transportation of stolen property carries a maximum potential penalty of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine, or twice the amount of money involved in the offense, whichever is greater. Sentencing is scheduled for April 25, 2023.

Sellinger said Barr targeted Asian and Asian-American homeowners.

A group of people targeted more than a dozen Asian homeowners — “believed to have large sums” of money and expensive jewelry — for burglaries in four states, according to court documents. In addition to their race, the victims owned small businesses, “typically Asian-family owned restaurants,” and were watched by the accused burglars before their homes were located and broken into in New Jersey, New York, Delaware and Pennsylvania, court documents state.

The New Jersey man was caught trying to break into one home in March 2019 and admitted taking part in other burglaries, according to a criminal complaint filed in federal court. He is accused of stealing items inside three homes for himself, prosecutors said.

Barr faces a potential maximum sentence of five years in prison, according to the release.

After Barr was caught breaking into a home in Hazlet, New Jersey, he told investigators that he was “solicited by a ‘head person’” and carried out a few burglaries, the complaint states.

He did so from December 2016 through March 2019, prosecutors said.

On March 19, 2019, an Asian business owner’s car was broken into in the parking lot of a Chinese food restaurant in Hazlet, according to the complaint.

This business owner became the ninth Asian homeowner targeted in the burglary scheme overall, the complaint shows.

After their car was broken into, Hazlet police started surveilling the victim’s home, according to the complaint. The next day, Barr and another man, dressed in all black, were caught walking into the victim’s backyard and peering through the windows of their home, the complaint states.

When they smashed through one of the windows, Hazlet police officers stepped in and Barr and the other suspect tried running away, according to the complaint.

Officers ultimately caught up to Barr and arrested him, the complaint says. He is accused of telling investigators that he was “directed” to the victim’s home after already having burglarized three other residences, according to the complaint.

Barr is one of nine defendants named in the complaint, court records show. The case is still ongoing as of Dec. 22. His sentencing is scheduled for April 25, according to prosecutors.

Sellinger credited FBI Newark’s Transnational Organized Crime Task Force, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge James E. Dennehy, in Newark, with the investigation leading to today’s guilty plea.

He also thanked the Middlesex County Prosecutor’s Office, the New Jersey State Police, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, the U.S. Department of Labor, the U.S. Department of State, the Drug Enforcement Administration, the U.S. Customs and Border Protection, the U.S. Department of Transportation, the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, the Union County Prosecutor’s Office.

The investigation was also aided by police departments in Bernards Township, Bethlehem Township, Cherry Hill, Cinnaminson, Clark, Colonial Regional, Cranford, Delran, Edison, East Brunswick, East Hanover, Eatontown, Elizabeth, Evesham Township, Exeter Township, Fair Lawn, Forks Township, Fort Lee, Franklin Township, Glassboro, Gloucester Township, Hackensack, Haverstraw, Hazlet, Highland Park, Hillside, Hillsborough Township, Howell Township, Jackson, Kenilworth, Lawrence Township, Linden, Lyndhurst, Mahwah, Marlboro Township, Maywood, Middletown, Montgomery County, Montville, Morris Township, Mount Laurel, Mountainside, New Castle County, New Providence, North Brunswick, North Plainfield, Old Bridge, Paramus, Parsippany, Phillipsburg, Piscataway, Pocono Mountain Regional, Pocono Township, Raritan, Roselle Park, Sayreville, Somerville, South Brunswick, South Plainfield, South River, South Whitehall Township, Spotswood, Town of Tuxedo, Tinton Falls, Toms River, Township of Ocean, Union, Upper Macungie Township, Wall Township, Warren, Washington Township, Watchung, Westfield, Whitehall Township, and Woodbridge Township.

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