TRENTON, N.J. (AP) - Four residents were indicted on charges they trafficked guns into New Jersey as part of a gun ring that led to the shooting death of a toddler in 2019, the state’s Attorney General Gurbir Grewal said Wednesday.
The defendants were arrested in January last year on charges, but were indicted on a 57-count grand jury indictment on Tuesday, Grewal said.
Charged in the scheme are 34-year-old Robert Crosley III, who’s charged with managing the gun trafficking conspiracy that led to the recovery of 36 guns and 20 ounces of methamphetamine - enough for 14,000 individual doses, according to Grewal. Forty-year-old Matthew Zoba is charged with running the drug trafficking conspiracy. Victoria Zipf, 34, is Zoba’s girlfriend and is charged with acting as a straw purchaser and assisting with gun and drug sales. Yuri Lyubinskiy, 40, also helped with the gun and drug sales, Grewal said.
Crosley’s attorney, Robert Gamburg, said he’s reviewing the indictment and his client intends to plead not guilty.
Jill Cohen, Zoba’s attorney, said in a statement that she has not received evidence from the state yet and there is nothing showing her client is linked to the numerous gun and drug charges. She said her client would plead not guilty.
Zipf’s attorney declined to comment.
A message was also left with Lyubinskiy’s attorney.
According to Grewal, authorities identified a semi-automatic rifle sold by the ring in December 2019 as the gun used in the Oct. 20, 2019, fatal shooting of of 2-year-old Nikolette Rivera. She was shot as her mother held her in their home in Philadelphia, according to the attorney general. Two men were charged in that case.
From March 2019 to January 2020, members of the ring sold 16 guns in the Camden, New Jersey, area, including six military-style rifles, 10 handguns and two outlawed large-capacity magazines, according to the attorney general. An additional 20 guns were seized during arrests, including an Uzi as well as three partial sticks of dynamite. Methamphetamine, heroin, marijuana plants and crack cocaine were also recovered.
The indictment charges Crosley and Zoba with first-degree promoting organized street crime. They’re are also charged with first-degree distribution of methamphetamine. All four defendants, who live in Philadelphia, are charged with second-degree conspiracy in connection with the gun trafficking and second-degree transporting firearms into the state for illegal sale.
All are also charged with second-degree conspiracy in connection with the drug trafficking. There are also numerous weapons charges
A fifth defendant was arrested in January 2020 - Michael Snyder, 44, of Philadelphia - died the following month.
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