DOJ Seal

Department of Justice

U.S. Attorney's Office
District of New Jersey

For Immediate Release

Wednesday, March 23, 2016
Paul J. Fishman
, United States Attorney
Contact: Matthew Reilly, Office of Public Affairs

Mercer County, New Jersey, Man Sentenced to More than 15 Years in Prison for Series of Armed Robberies

TRENTON, N.J. B A Mercer County, New Jersey, man was sentenced today to 188 months in prison for committing four armed robberies of commercial establishments in Burlington and Mercer counties, U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman announced.

Samuel Matias Cruz, 36, formerly of Trenton, New Jersey, previously pleaded guilty to an information charging him with one count of conspiracy to commit Hobbs Act robberies. U.S. District Judge Michael A. Shipp imposed the sentence today in Trenton federal court. According to documents filed in this case and statements made in court:

Between September 2012 and March 2013, Cruz and his conspirators planned and executed a number of violent armed robberies of various commercial establishments in the Trenton area, including gas stations, restaurants, travel agencies and money-remitting businesses.

In several robberies, Cruz and others brandished firearms and physically restrained victims with plastic zip ties before absconding with large quantities of money taken from the respective establishments’ cash drawers and registers.

On one occasion in December 2012, Cruz and two conspirators robbed the Sabor Latino Bar in Trenton. During this robbery, the men held five individuals who were then present in the bar at gunpoint and subsequently restrained them by tying their hands with plastic zip ties. Cruz and the other conspirators then stole approximately $12,000 from the bar’s cash register, as well as approximately $2,000 in cash and jewelry from the bar’s patrons.

Subsequently, on Dec. 29, 2012, Cruz helped plan and execute the robbery of the Woodrow Wilson Service Plaza Sunoco Gas Station on the New Jersey Turnpike, located in Hamilton Township, New Jersey. During that robbery, Cruz and another conspirator entered the station carrying handguns and physically restrained a Sunoco employee with plastic zip ties. The men stole approximately $26,000 from the station’s cash register before fleeing the location.

In addition to the prison term, Judge Shipp sentenced Cruz to serve three years of supervised release.

U.S. Attorney Fishman credited special agents of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), under the direction of Special Agent in Charge George P. Belsky; the Mercer County Prosecutor’s Office, under the direction of Acting Prosecutor Angelo J. Onofri; and the Burlington County Prosecutor’s Office, under the direction of Prosecutor Robert D. Bernardi, with the investigation leading to today’s sentencing. He also thanked officers from the N.J. State Police, under the direction of Col. Rick Fuentes, the Trenton Police Department, under the direction of Director Ernest Parrey, Jr., and the Westampton Police Department, under the direction of Police Chief Joseph Otto, for their roles in the case. The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Dennis C. Carletta of the U.S. Attorney’s Office Criminal Division in Newark.

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Defense counsel: Adalgiza A. Nunez, Newark, NJ

Field Division: Newark Field Division