CVP EXCLUSIVE: A heroin-addicted Garfield ex-con has less than a month to accept a 10-year plea offer from prosecutors or stand trial for the stolen motorcycle-aided holdup of an Elmwood Park convenience store last summer.
“I’m not coming down on my offer,” Assistant Bergen County Prosecutor Nicholas Ostuni told Presiding Superior Court Judge Liliana DeAvila-Silebi during a court appearance today for Ariel Drapczynski. “The proofs in the case are very strong.”
What’s more, Ostuni said, an unidentified informant may be able to testify both in this and in a Passaic County case.
Although Ostuni didn’t identify him, former Garfield resident Tomasz Maczka faces charges with Drapczynski in Passaic County for a Wanaque convenience store robbery — which authorities said was solved after Drapcyznski posted photos of them in motorcycle helmets on Facebook.
“I don’t know if Passaic is offering him consecutive or concurrent time,” the assistant prosecutor said, “But when we come back I’ll ask for him to be sentenced in addition to whatever Passaic County gives him.”
Ostuni said other evidence against Drapcyznski includes:
• One eyewitness who reported seeing Drapczynski wearing a distinctive t-shirt at the crime scene;
• Another who reported seeing him remove the same shirt and toss it into a trash can;
• The t-shirt itself, which had DNA matching Drapczynski’s;
• The stolen motorcycle;
• A partial identification by the Seven Days convenience mart owner.
The judge gave Drapczynski until April 13 to either accept the deal or go to trial.
Bergen County sheriff’s detectives and Garfield and Elmwood Park police arrested Drapczynksi in the backyard of his girlfriend’s residence on Van Bussum Avenue in Garfield last Aug. 19, four days after the holdup
Drapcynski, who is in state prison after being sentenced in September for a drug-related evidence tampering conviction from last year, was briefly hospitalized at St. Joseph’s Regional Medical Center in Paterson for a heroin overdose after the Elmwood Park robbery, sources told CLIFFVIEW PILOT.
The clerk at the Boulevard convenience store told Elmwood Park police that she handed over cigarettes and an undetermined amount of cash after the robber came in wearing a cycle helmet and pointed a gun at her.
He then fled on a motorcycle or dirt bike, she said.
A surveillance image was posted on CLIFFVIEW PILOT within hours of the holdup and tips quickly began coming in, police said.
SEE: Surveillance photo issued in Elmwood Park convenience store armed robbery
Before long, an arrest warrant was obtained.
Drapczynski already had a record that includes parole and probation violations, one stemming from an aggravated assault conviction with a weapon in the late 2000s.
A state judge in Hackensack issued a bench warrant for him after he skipped sentencing last year on a third-degree drug conviction. Investigators from Garfield and Elmwood Park serving the warrant originally thought they had Drapczynski holed up — and armed — in a friend’s apartment on Plauderville Avenue a day before his arrest.
They briefly made contact with him, but a law enforcement source told CLIFFVIEW PILOT that he refused to surrender. So a perimeter was established and the street was closed between Shaw and Main streets in the mixed-use neighborhood.
Several area residents were relocated to Fire Company #5′s firehouse in the neighborhood.
A Bergen County SWAT team was then brought in.
It was later determined that Drapczynksi wasn’t there. Nor was he at two other residences that police checked.
As the search continued, Drapcyznki posted photos on Facebook of him and Maczka.
CLIFFVIEW PILOT published the photos, which led authorities to Maczka, who police said joined Drapcyznski in robbing a Quick Stop on Ringwood Avenue in Wanaque while wearing the helmets, leather jackets and bandanas over their faces. The robbers fled on a single motorcycle, authorities said at the time.
STORY / COURTROOM PHOTOS: CLIFFVIEW PILOT Courthouse Reporter Mary K. Miraglia