An Edison, New Jersey man has been sentenced to 20 years in state prison for committing a violent kidnapping and robbery at a Linden shoe store in 2012, acting Union County Prosecutor Grace H. Park announced Friday.

Mervin Fitzgerald, 51, must serve at least 85 percent of that sentence (17 years) before the possibility of parole under terms set down Friday morning by state Superior Court Judge Regina Caulfield.

At approximately 7:40 p.m. on New Year’s Eve in 2012, two men entered the Payless shoe store off of U.S. Routes 1&9 in Linden and forced two then-18-year-old female employees into a back room, where they were ordered at gunpoint to lay down on the floor while they were tied together, according to Union County Assistant Prosecutor Kathleen Dillon, who prosecuted the case. The two suspects subsequently made off with approximately $200 in cash, and a customer found the bound employees shortly thereafter and called 911, Dillon said.

Sign Up for E-News

Through the examination of DNA evidence and eyewitness accounts, a Linden Police Department investigation led by now-retired Detective Eddie Adams and Detective David Kother resulted in Fitzgerald being identified as a suspect in the case, and he was arrested and charged in April 2014, with bail set at $200,000. Fitzgerald was indicted in August 2014.

Following a two-week trial and jury deliberations spread over two days, Fitzgerald was convicted on charges of first-degree kidnapping and second-degree robbery in March 2017. The other suspect in the robbery continues to remain at large.