NEWARK, N.J. – Two Essex County, New Jersey, men have been charged with robbing six convenience stores at gunpoint in November and December 2017, U.S. Attorney Craig Carpenito announced.
Tione Davis, 35, of East Orange and Meshach Whagar, 29, of Newark, are charged by complaint with one count of conspiring to commit Hobbs Act robberies, six substantive counts of Hobbs Act robbery, and one count of using a firearm during a crime of violence. Whagar appeared before U.S. Magistrate Judge Joseph A. Dickson in Newark federal court and was detained. Davis is expected to make his initial appearance tomorrow.
Both defendants were previously arrested in December 2017 and have been held in state custody on related charges since that time.
According to the documents filed in this case and statements made in court:
The FBI is investigating a string of approximately 20 armed robberies of convenience stores and gas stations that took place throughout New Jersey between November and December 2017. Davis and Whagar are charged with robbing six convenience stores during that time, including locations in Middlesex, Morris, Bergen, Union, Hudson, and Passaic Counties. During those robberies, Davis, while wearing dark clothing and hiding his face with masks or scarves, allegedly brandished a handgun and demanded money from store clerks. After stealing cash from the stores, Davis fled with Whagar, who acted as the getaway driver.
Before being apprehended, the defendants led law enforcement on a high-speed vehicle pursuit in Morris County. Among the items found in their vehicle were two handguns matching the description of those Davis used during the robberies.
The Hobbs Act charges each carry a maximum potential penalty of 20 years in prison. The brandishing a firearm charge carries a maximum potential penalty of life in prison and a mandatory minimum sentence of seven years in prison, which must run consecutively to any other prison term. Each count also carries a potential $250,000 fine, or twice the gross gain or loss from the offense.
U.S. Attorney Carpenito credited special agents of the FBI, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Gregory W. Ehrie in Newark, with the investigation. He also thanked the Morris, Union, Middlesex, Hudson, Passaic, Bergen, and Essex County Prosecutor’s Offices, as well as the Morris Plains, Springfield, Middlesex, Lodi, Roselle Park, Rahway, Parsippany, Rockaway, Mahwah, Elmwood Park, Bayonne, West Orange, East Brunswick, South River, Edison, Hoboken, Union, Clark, Kearny, Clifton, and Maplewood police departments for their work on this case.
The charges and allegations contained in the complaint are merely accusations, and the defendants are considered innocent unless and until proven guilty.