HAWTHORNE, N.J. – A Rockland County man admitted in federal court Thursday that he was the getaway driver for a gang of bandits who robbed a Passaic County bar two Christmases ago.
Oscar Avalos-Cortez, 22, of New City became the fourth of six purported gang members to take a plea deal from prosecutors with the U.S. Attorney's Office in Newark.
The other three admitted that they also carjacked, kidnapped and leaving a local cab driver for dead after he and four fellow crew members held up a bar on Christmas night 2015.
Avalos-Cortez told a U.S. District Court judge that he actually drove at least six members of Paterson's 18th Street Gang in his car to the Hawthorne holdup, which yielded the robbers $200.
Gang members later got into a cab in Paterson without Avalos-Cortez and took control of the vehicle in Ridgewood, hitting the driver in the head with a beer bottle and slicing his throat with a knife before leaving him on the side of the New York State Thruway near Woodbury, N.Y., three of them testified.
The taxicab driver survived, authorities said.
A multi-agency task force that cracked the cases was made up of agents from the FBI and ICE, investigators from the New Jersey State Police, New York State Police and Bergen County Prosecutor's Office, and members of the Ridgewood, Mahwah, Hawthorne and Waldwick.
Also arrested were Jostin Reyes of Waldwick, Guillermo and Balmore Carrillo-Iraheta, both of Suffern, Wilbur J. Barhona of Ridgewood and Juan Chiliseo-Vega, also of Suffern.
Reyes admitted his role in the crimes earlier this month. Guillermo Carillo-Iraheta took a plea deal from prosecutors last month. Chiliseo-Vega pleaded guilty a week earlier.
Charges against Barahona for both crimes and against Balmore Carrillo-Iraheta for the bar robbery were still pending.
Acting U.S. Attorney William E. Fitzpatrick credited special agents of the FBI, as well as the Ridgewood and Hawthorne police departments, with the investigation leading to the plea, secured by Assistant U.S. Attorney Elaine K. Lou and and Karen D. Stringer of his General Crimes Unit in Newark.