CVP EXCLUSIVE: A Hackensack man who admitted robbing a gas station with an old school mate — while he said he was taking a break from online studies — avoided prison time Friday.
“I view this as being an enormous opportunity for you, sir,” Superior Court Presiding Judge Susan J. Steele told 19-year old Joshua Berroa, while sentencing him to three years probation. “I direct you to obtain new employment, obtain your GED and undergo any drug and alcohol testing, as directed by probation.”
Steele said she ratified a plea deal struck with prosecutors because Berroa — — who authorities said has seven delinquency convictions as a juvenile along with three other arrests — apparently didn’t seem to consider the harm in his actions.
Defense attorney Navarro Gray told the judge on Friday in Hackensack that his client was studying for an online OSHA certification at home last Aug. 18 when he decided to take a break and go out with his cousin.
He ran into an old high school friend, Rayvon Hammond, he said, and the two decided to rob a Hackensack gas station.
Berroa said he cased the station before Hammond took $150 at gunpoint from the attendant.
Police five days later arrested both separately.
Berroa originally was charged with first-degree robbery with a deadly weapon but pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit theft and unlawful taking under his deal with prosecutors.
STORY / PHOTO: CLIFFVIEW PILOT Courthouse Reporter Mary K. Miraglia