A man has been arrested in connection with two armed robberies of pharmacies for prescription medication in Paterson and Passaic City, according to federal authorities.
Antonio Rivera, 46, of Paterson, is charged with interference with commerce by robbery, attempted interference with commerce by robbery, and using, carrying, and discharging a firearm during and in relation to a crime of violence.
Rivera, also known as “Hagie,” appeared before a judge in Newark federal court on Monday and was detained.
Authorities said the two incidents involving Rivera took place in February and April.
On February 8, 2023, at approximately 5:36 p.m., Rivera entered a pharmacy on Market Street in Paterson, wearing a black hoodie, black pants, black sneakers, a black ski mask, and carrying a black backpack with distinct “NIKE” white lettering. He brandished a handgun, discharged one round, and demanded Percocet, Morphine, and Oxycodone pills.
One of the pharmacy employees, identified as Victim-1, complied with Rivera’s demands by grabbing medication bottles and placing them inside the suspect’s backpack. Rivera fired another round before another employee, identified as Victim-2, gave him cash from the cash register. In an attempt to grab a gold necklace from Victim-2′s neck, Rivera ran out of the pharmacy.
On April 5, 2023, at approximately 5:38 p.m., Rivera was dropped off by a black vehicle near a pharmacy on Passaic Street in Passaic City. He was seen wearing a white hoodie, a dark jacket, black pants, and carrying a black BAPE backpack. He was also carrying a cell phone, according to the video footage.
Once inside the pharmacy, Rivera wore a black ski mask, brandished a handgun, and pointed it at an employee’s head (“Victim-3″), demanding money from the cash register to be put in a bag. When Victim-3 refused, the suspect went to the back of the pharmacy and demanded “pills” while pointing the firearm at other employees. The suspect then fired a shot that struck a file cabinet before fleeing through the rear of the pharmacy.
Approximately eight minutes later, at around 5:46 p.m., the suspect was captured on video re-entering the front passenger side of the same black vehicle that had dropped him off, which then drove away from the scene.
The shell casings from the firearm used in Robbery-1 and Robbery-2 were analyzed by law enforcement, revealing that the same firearm was used in both incidents. Several witnesses who are personally acquainted with Rivera, including his former parole officer, positively identified the screenshot, pictured, above as being Rivera. Rivera’s presence at both robberies was confirmed by cellphone data, authorities said.
Rivera faces decades in prison if convicted of the offenses.