NEWARK, NJ – Keontrae Lawrence, a/k/a "Taz," of South Orange pleaded guilty, admitting his role in an armed robbery of a club in Passaic in September, 2015, stated Acting U.S. Attorney William E. Fitzpatrick on September 7.
Lawrence, age 29, leaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Madeline Cox Arleo in Newark federal court to an indictment charging him with one count of conspiracy to commit Hobbs Act robbery and one count of brandishing a firearm during a crime of violence, according to a release from the New Jersey Department of Justice.
According to the indictment and other documents filed in this case, on September 6, 2015, Lawrence and others agreed to rob a club in Passaic at gunpoint. During his plea hearing, Lawrence admitted that he "knowingly and willfully participated in the robbery and that he and another conspirator brandished a firearm and threatened to use violence against a club employee," according to the release from the Department of Justice.
According to the release, Lawrence also admitted that he and the other conspirator took $26,084 in cash from the club before fleeing in a getaway car.
The Hobbs Act conspiracy charge carries a statutory maximum of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine, or twice the gain or loss from the offense. The count of brandishing a firearm during a crime of violence carries a mandatory minimum sentence of seven years in prison and that sentence must be consecutive to any other sentence imposed.
Lawrence’s sentencing is set for Jan. 5, 2018.
Lawrence was originally charged with Jimmy Cooper, a/k/a “Flip,” age 32, of Irvington, and Shaheed Blamahsah, a/k/a “Aboo,” age 30, of East Orange, in November 2016. Cooper and Lawrence were later indicted by a federal grand jury on March 24, 2017, for their roles in the robbery, stated the release from the Department of Justice.
Blamahsah pleaded guilty to his role in the robbery and awaits sentencing. The charges against Cooper are still pending, and he is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.