Newark man sentenced to prison for role in armed robbery spree

NEWARK, NJ — Meshach Whagar, 31, of Newark, was sentenced to nine years and two months in prison for participating in a string of convenience store robberies that took place across New Jersey in November and December 2017, acting U.S. Attorney Rachael A. Honig announced on July 21.

Whagar previously pleaded guilty by videoconference before U.S. District Judge Kevin McNulty to a superseding information charging him with one count of conspiracy to commit Hobbs Act robbery, nine substantive counts of Hobbs Act robbery and one count of using a firearm during a crime of violence. The Hobbs Act prohibits actual or attempted robbery or extortion affecting interstate or foreign commerce.

Whagar’s codefendant, Tione Davis, 38, of East Orange, previously pleaded guilty to federal charges relating to the armed robbery spree and is awaiting sentencing.

According to documents filed in this case and statements made in court, Davis and Whagar committed a string of 20 armed robberies of convenience stores and gas stations throughout New Jersey between November and December 2017, including locations in Essex, Middlesex, Morris, Bergen, Union, Hudson and Passaic counties. During those robberies, Davis, while wearing dark clothing and hiding his face with masks or scarves, 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 the vehicle defendants used in the chase were two handguns matching the description of those Davis used during the robberies.

In addition to the prison term, McNulty sentenced Whagar to three years of supervised release.