Jury convicts Ironbound bar owner of terroristic threats, weapons offenses

NEWARK, NJ — An Essex County jury has convicted Ironbound bar owner Eduardo Lesmes, 40, of Newark, of two counts of terroristic threats, two counts of possession of a weapon for an unlawful purpose and two counts of fourth-degree aggravated assault by pointing a firearm, according to an Oct. 18 press release from the Essex County Prosecutor’s Office.

“This case was a victory for both of the victims and for the state because the unlawful use of handguns has no place in our community,” said Assistant Prosecutor Jason Lesnevec, who tried the case.

During the trial before Superior Court Judge Harold W. Fullilove Jr., evidence revealed that on Sept. 1, 2016, two victims walked into Newark Police Headquarters, at separate times, reporting that Lesmes had threatened their lives and pointed a black handgun at them when they entered his bar, Cerveja & Canela, located at 253 Ferry St. in Newark. 

At about 8:30 p.m., the first victim, a surveillance camera installation technician, arrived at the bar in order to collect the storage from the bar’s surveillance cameras. The defendant wanted more storage capacity for his cameras and demanded that the victim provide the extra storage at a better price. Because the victim could not give Lesmes a better price, the defendant pulled his handgun on the victim and threatened to kill the victim and his family if he did not provide a cheaper price for the additional storage.

The victim then retrieved the surveillance camera DVR storage and left the bar. The victim went to the Newark Police station and turned over the video footage. 

At about 9:15 p.m., the second victim, a friend of the defendant, entered the bar. The second victim had recently helped a bartender, who worked for the defendant, get a new job at a competing bar. Apparently angered by that, the defendant again pulled out his handgun and placed it to the victim’s neck. After the two fell to the floor, the victim was picked up and escorted out of the bar. The defendant smacked the victim in his face and threatened to kill him if he ever came back to the bar. The second incident was not captured on camera. 

Sentencing is scheduled for Dec. 6. Lesmes now faces a maximum sentence of 33 years in New Jersey State Prison with 8.5 years of parole ineligibility pursuant to the Graves Act.