North Bergen Man Killed Victim with Hammer & Hid Body in Lincoln Park, New Jersey

Lincoln Park Homicide ConvictionCarlos Rojas will stay in prison for the violent killing of his stepfather’s cousin. Rojas is a 27-year-old man from North Bergen, New Jersey. On August 3, 2011, he used a hammer to bludgeon 27-year-old Esteban Hernandez-Vazquez in a garage in Fairview, NJ. The garage was owned by a mechanic who was in the process of teaching Rojas to repair motor vehicles. According to Morris County prosecutors, Rojas and Hernandez-Vazquez got into a verbal argument about $4,000. Things turned physical and Rojas grabbed a hammer from his backpack and struck Hernandez-Vazquez in the head. When Hernandez-Vazquez fell to the ground, Rojas hit him another eight more.

Rojas and his mechanic friend, Oscar Benedicto-Aleman, later placed the victim’s body into the trunk of a 1996 Toyota Camry. Rojas drove the vehicle to Lincoln Park, New Jersey, while Benedicto-Aleman followed in a different car. Rojas and Benedicto-Aleman abandoned the Camry at the bottom of an embankment. The following day, Lincoln Park police discovered the abandoned vehicle with the victim’s body in the trunk.

Rojas and Benedicto-Aleman were arrested and charged with multiple crimes. Rojas eventually went to trial to face charges for first degree murder, kidnapping, unlawful possession of a weapon, theft of movable property, hindering apprehension, and desecrating human remains. (Meanwhile, Benedicto-Aleman made a plea agreement with the Morris County Prosecutor’s Office and pleaded guilty to desecration of human remains.)

At the end of a trial in Morris County Superior Court, a jury found Rojas guilty on aggravated manslaughter charges, as well as the other felony charges. The superior court judge then sentenced Rojas to 30 years behind bars in NJ State Prison. (20 years for aggravated manslaughter, seven years for desecrating human remains, and three years for hindering apprehension.) When the trial court judge issued the sentence, he noted that Rojas was not truthful when speaking to investigators and showed no remorse for the brutal murder.

New Jersey Court Rejects Appeal in Aggravated Manslaughter Case

Rojas appealed his criminal conviction to the Superior Court of NJ, Appellate Division and argued that his conviction ought to be overturned because the trial court judge did not properly answer questions asked by the jury. Rojas also argued that his legal counsel was ineffective and that the judge’s sentence was “excessive.”

The appellate court rejected and Rojas’ appeal and saw “no reason to disturb the sentences imposed.” The New Jersey appellate court’s ruling means that Rojas will stay in prison until at least 2028 – when he will be eligible for release on parole.

Free Consultation with an Experienced Criminal Defense Attorney in Morris County, New Jersey

Travis J. Tormey defends clients against charges of manslaughter, aggravated assault, and other violent crimes in Morris County, NJ. If you or a loved one was arrested and charged with a crime in New Jersey, contact Attorney Tormey now to schedule a free consultation at his Morristown office.

Morris Plains NJ Criminal Mischief AttorneysA Florham Park man was sentenced for a sexual offense and then allegedly vandalized a park in Morris Plains NJ just a few hours later.

The suspect, a 20 year-old man who lives in Florham Park, previously pleaded guilty to charges of criminal sexual contact. The suspect allegedly engaged in sexual relations with two juveniles in East Hanover, New Jersey. On October 21, 2016, the suspect appeared in Morris County Superior Court in Morristown and was sentenced to two years of probation and ordered to register as a sex offender under Megan’s Law, in accordance with the recommendation of prosecutors.

Just a couple of hours after the suspect managed to avoid jail on the sex crime charges, he reportedly got together with three acquaintances and went to Community Park in Morris Plains, New Jersey. That’s where all four men allegedly spray-painted graffiti on a stone patio and a garbage can in the park.

Morris Plains detectives investigated and eventually arrested the four allegedly vandals. The main suspect and another person were charged with criminal mischief, a fourth degree felony that carries severe penalties. Meanwhile, the other two men accused of committing vandalism in the public par were cited for municipal ordinance violations.

For more information about this case, see the article, “Sex Offender Charged with Defacing Morris Plains Park Property.”

Roxbury NJ Teacher Accused of Sex CrimeA man on leave from his job as an assistant principal at a Roxbury high school recently pleaded not guilty to sex crime charges involving an underage boy.

The suspect is a 56-year-old man from Rockaway Township, New Jersey. He has been accused of inappropriately touching the victim at his home in September 2014. According to the Morris County Prosecutor’s Office, the victim was living at the residence on a part-time basis when the illegal sexual contact occurred.

After the incident, the teenage victim reportedly spoke with a counselor at the Excel Treatment Center in Dover NJ and said that the suspect committed the sexual offense.

The suspect’s criminal defense lawyers have countered that the victim later came back to the drug treatment center with his dad and recanted his story.

The suspect faces numerous criminal charges, including aggravated criminal sexual contact, criminal sexual contact, and endangering the welfare of a child.

The suspect recently appeared in Morris County Superior Court in Morristown NJ for arraignment proceedings. During the arraignment, the suspect formally entered a plea of “not guilty” to the very serious sex crime charges.

The victim was reportedly not a student at Roxbury High School, the school where the suspect worked as an assistant principal. As soon as the criminal charges were filed against the suspect, the school suspended him from his duties.

For further information about this case, see the article, “Ex-Roxbury Educator Pleads Not Guilty in Teen Sex Case.”

Riverdale NJ Credit Card Fraud AttorneysRiverdale NJ police recently arrested three people who allegedly used fraudulent credit cards to make purchases at local businesses.

The Riverdale Police Department got a call about suspicious activity by a customer at a Target store on State Route 23 in Riverdale, New Jersey. A Target loss prevention officer told police that the suspect was attempting to purchase several items, including laptop computers, with fake credit cards.

When a Riverdale NJ patrol cop arrived at the Target, he saw the suspect heading toward the exit. The police officer walked toward the suspect and noticed that the suspect appeared to be nervous. The suspect reportedly gave the police officer a fake driver’s license out of Pennsylvania and then ran to a waiting vehicle. The car drove off but got stuck in heavy traffic and was stopped by another Riverdale cop.

Police removed the 25-year-old driver and two passengers from the car. Riverdale police allegedly found one of the suspects with a small bag of marijuana, in addition to several fake credit cards and driver’s licenses. When police searched the vehicle, they allegedly discovered more than $6,000 worth of merchandise from Best Buy and Toys “R” Us. It is believed that the suspects used the fake credit cards to buy the merchandise from stores in Paramus, New Jersey.

The 27-year-old suspect accused of making the fraudulent purchases at the Riverdale Target hails from Brooklyn, NY. He faces criminal charges for credit card fraud, receiving stolen property, and eluding police. Meanwhile, the driver of the car faces criminal charges for receiving stolen property and simple possession of marijuana.

After being placed under arrest and charged, all three suspects posted $50K bail amounts and secured their releases from police custody. The suspects have pending court dates to address the charges against them.

For further information about this case, go to the article, “Men with Fake Credit Cards Caught in Riverdale Following Brief Chase, Police Say.”

Hopatcong New Jersey Kidnapping SuspectA Hopatcong New Jersey man faces kidnapping charges after allegedly abducting his two young sons and taking them to Florida.

According to officials, the 36-year-old suspect kidnapped his 7-year-old son and his 8-year-old son in February.

The suspect then allegedly fled to Florida with a childhood friend who is a convicted sex offender. The friend was previously convicted of aggravated sexual exploitation of a minor, sexual battery, and rape.

The boys’ mother, who lives in Landing NJ, reported the children as missing after the suspect failed to bring them back following a custody visit. Police subsequently issued a warrant for the suspect’s arrest. State and federal authorities began an investigation and attempted to locate the suspect.

The children were missing for roughly six weeks before police tracked down the suspect at a motel located in New Port Richey, Florida. Police managed to locate the suspect by triangulating his location from a cell phone registered to the suspect’s accomplice.

Once the suspect was in police custody, the children were brought back to their mother in New Jersey. Meanwhile, the suspect was transported to Sussex County NJ after waiving extradition.

The suspect was charged with kidnapping and interference of custody.

The suspect recently made an appearance in Sussex County Superior Court for a bail hearing. He did not speak at the hearing.

The superior court judge decided to maintain the suspect’s bail at $800,000. He also prohibited the suspect from contacting his children while the case is pending.

Prosecutors suggested that the kidnapping was “a planned event,” not a “spur of moment” decision. Additionally, prosecutors said that the kidnapping attempt was meant to “permanently deprive” the suspect’s ex-wife of custody of the boys. According to prosecutors, the suspect planned to live “off the grid” until the children reached the age of 18.


For further information about this case, see the article entitled “Judge Maintains $800K Bail for Hopatcong Dad Accused of Kidnapping Sons.”

A 24-year-old volunteer firefighter from Jefferson Township, who was accused of stealing gas and money from the department, was admitted into the Pre-Trial Intervention (PTI) program in Morris County earlier this month. As part of his PTI admission, he gave up his position at the department and agreed never to seek public employment. He will be on probation for 18 months, must pay $320 in restitution to the fire department, and complete 50 hours of community service. If he complies with these conditions of PTI and stays out of trouble, the charges will be dismissed at the end of the probation.

PTI is a diversionary program for first time offenders. It is only available once in your life. No guilty plea is required to be entered into the program. For additional information on the Jefferson Township case, please see the article.

A 35-year-old Pequannok man has been charged with criminal mischief and defiant trespassing after an argument led to him slashing tires on an SUV and a trailer. The motive was an argument where someone told him to stop driving his four-wheeler on their property. He apparently was not happy with this and retaliated by slashing the property owners tires. He was apprehended by police after someone took a picture of him with their cell phone at the scene of the crime. An officer was able to identify the man from the photo and questioned him at his home. They then inspected his four wheeler and arrested him for criminal mischief and defiant trespassing, two disorderly persons offenses.

A criminal mischief charge in New Jersey is governed by N.J.S. 2C:17-3 which provides in pertinent part:

§ 2C:17-3. Criminal Mischief

a. Offense defined. A person is guilty of criminal mischief if he:

(1) Purposely or knowingly damages tangible property of another or damages tangible property of another recklessly or negligently in the employment of fire, explosives or other dangerous means listed in subsection a. of N.J.S.A. 2C:17-2; or

(2) Purposely, knowingly or recklessly tampers with tangible property of another so as to endanger person or property, including the damaging or destroying of a rental premises by a tenant in retaliation for institution of eviction proceedings.

b. Grading. (1) Criminal mischief is a crime of the third degree if the actor purposely or knowingly causes pecuniary loss of $ 2,000.00 or more.

(2) Criminal mischief is a crime of the fourth degree if the actor causes pecuniary loss in excess of $ 500.00 but less than $ 2000.00. It is a disorderly persons offense if the actor causes pecuniary loss of $ 500.00 or less.

A suspected drunk driver was arrested by Hanover PD after driving around in circles in a parking lot on Ridgedale Avenue. When officers arrived, they found him drinking in the vehicle and he also had vials containing small amounts of synthetic marijuana, according to the article. The driver claimed he was lost. He was arrested and charged with driving while intoxicated (DWI), reckless driving, possession of a controlled dangerous substance (CDS), possession of CDS in a motor vehicle, and possession of drug paraphernalia.

A criminal charge for possession of drug paraphernalia is governed by N.J.S. 2C:36-2 which provides in pertinent part:

§ 2C:36-2. Use or possession with intent to use, disorderly persons offense

It shall be unlawful for any person to use, or to possess with intent to use, drug paraphernalia to plant, propagate, cultivate, grow, harvest, manufacture, compound, convert, produce, process, prepare, test, analyze, pack, repack, store, contain, conceal, ingest, inhale, or otherwise introduce into the human body a controlled dangerous substance, controlled substance analog or toxic chemical in violation of the provisions of chapter 35 of this title. Any person who violates this section is guilty of a disorderly persons offense.

In this case, the vials containing the synthetic marijuana or the baggies in the vehicle could be found to be drug paraphernalia. The defendant is facing a disorderly persons offense which includes up to a $1,000.00 fine, up to six (6) months in the county jail, and a permanent criminal charge on his record if convicted. He is eligible for the conditional discharge program if he has no prior drug convictions and has never used a diversionary program before.

Hanover police are looking for a man after the theft of a laptop from a Radio Shack display on Ridgedale Avenue last Thursday. A store employee called police after a laptop was taken off a display in the store by a man described as 40 years old, standing 6 foot 4. He also had a dark spot on his face above his upper lip and was wearing jeans and a denim jacket. The theft occurred around 1:45 p.m. as employees saw the man around the display and then quickly leave the store. The laptop was an Acer Aspire notebook worth $299.00.

Anyone with information regarding this theft is asked to contact the Hanover Police Department at 973-428-2518.

A Boontown township police officer responded to a 911 call from a driver requesting assistance around 1:30 a.m. earlier this month and found a Dover woman who was apparently intoxicated. The woman called 911 and gave a description of her vehicle but hung up before providing her location. Police canvassed the area and found a vehicle with a similar description. When police approached the vehicle, the driver was incoherent from intoxication and was unable to perform field sobriety tests. Her passenger, another female, was arrested and charged with simple assault. It is unclear whether the assault was on a law enforcement officer or the driver of the vehicle. The driver was arrested and charged with driving while intoxicated (DWI). Both individuals were later released from police headquarters after being processed and have pending court dates in the Boonton Municipal Court.

For additional information, please see the article.