Essex County Freeholder Carjacked at Gunpoint

The Essex County Prosecutor’s Office confirmed today that Essex County Freeholder Rufus Johnson was carjacked at gunpoint on Saturday evening at approximately 6pm near the 100 block of Montrose Street in Newark.

Johnson was in his Mercedes Benz on Saturday when three men approached. One of the men flashed a handgun and ordered Johnson out of the vehicle. The incident occurred less than a mile from the Seton Hall University Campus.

Johnson was unharmed and his vehicle was later recovered. He has declined comment thus far.

This is Johnson’s second run-in with violence in the past six months. In September 2012, Johnson (a Newark resident) was having breakfast at a West Ward restaurant when gunfire broke out. The incident left one man dead and two others injured. Johnson was unharmed.

Ironically enough, Johnson spoke about the shooting with his freeholder colleagues on Saturday during a budget hearing at the Town Hall before being carjacked.

Authorities believe that the suspects may have been involved in an earlier carjacking by a local train station. In that incident, an off-duty police sergeant with the East Orange Police Department fired shots at four suspects, who fled the scene. The Newark Police Department and the Essex County Prosecutor’s Major Crimes Task Force are investigating both incidents. For more information, see the Star Ledger article entitled, “Essex County freeholder carjacked at gunpoint in Newark.”

Carjacking is codified under NJSA 2C:15-2. It is a crime of the First Degree, the most serious under the New Jersey Criminal Code. If convicted, the suspects face between 10 and 30 years in New Jersey State Prison, with 85% that must be served before the benefit of parole pursuant to the No Early Release Act (“NERA”).

Notably, a crime of the First Degree is generally punishable by a term of imprisonment between 10 and 20 years in New Jersey State Prison. Because the crime of carjacking is considered an exceptionally serious and violent crime, however, the statute extends the maximum exposure to 30 years.

If you are facing carjacking charges in New Jersey, the consequences can be serious. Contact the experienced, aggressive criminal defense team at the Law Firm of Alissa D. Hascup.