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Defendants in Bergenfield drug robbery shootings brought to court

Photo Credit: CLIFFVIEW PILOT Courthouse Reporter Mary K. Miraglia
Photo Credit: Mary K. Miraglia

ONLY ON CVP: Arraignments on charges that include attempted murder, armed robbery and burglary concluded yesterday for five men tied to a vicious, drug-related shooting in Bergenfield last year.

Variously charged with 22 counts of criminal wrongdoing — nearly a third of them first-degree offenses — are:

Christian Nova, 22, of Englewood;
Mario Ferreira, 23, of Sucasunna;
Zakeer Roberts and Hasan “Smoke” Sly, both 24, of East Orange;
James Atwoods, 35, of Newark

TOP: Zakeer Roberts (left), Mario Ferreira BELOW: Christian Nova (STORY/FILE PHOTOS: Mary K. Miraglia)

Defense attorneys entered not guilty pleas for their clients, who were given until Dec. 1 to decide whether to accept plea deals or go to trial.

Bail remained at $1 million each for the accused triggermen, Roberts and Sly.

Despite having his bail lowered twice, Ferreira remained held on $400,000 in the Bergen County Jail. Nova was released on $250,000 bail after a similar request was granted. Atwoods remains free on $75,000.

A grand jury in Hackensack last month returned an indictment charging Nova, Roberts and Sly with the Sept. 1, 2013 break-in and shooting of John Newcomb and Gilbert Mercado with the intention of killing them.

A woman who was there was also held against her will while the house was searched for money and drugs, authorities said.

Nova set up the Labor Day crime by telling Sly and Roberts that the victims were drug dealers, Bergen County Prosecutor John L. Molinelli said at the time. But it was Ferreira who drove to the Westfield Avenue home house and waited for both men to rob the victims, knowing full well what was planned, the prosecutor said.

Besides attempted murder and aggravated assault, the counts against Sly, Roberts, Nova and Ferreria include conspiracy to commit armed robbery and illegal weapons offenses.

In addition, Sly and Roberts are charged with concealing two guns to hinder apprehension, while Nova is charged with erasing text messages in an attempt to conceal evidence.

Atwoods was arrested when authorities came looking for Sly at his apartment and found a drug den. Both men are charged with maintaining a heroin and cocaine manufacturing facility, along with various other cocaine, heroin and marijuana possession counts.

TOP (l. to r.): Zakeer Roberts, Mario Ferreira, Christian Nova (STORY/FILE PHOTOS: CLIFFVIEW PILOT Courthouse Reporter Mary K. Miraglia,)

THE STORY SO FAR:

  • EXCLUSIVE: Four defendants charged in the shooting of an accused drug dealer and another man during a Bergenfield home invasion kept them and a woman confined while they searched the residence, an indictment handed up by a grand jury in Hackensack alleges. READ MORE….

  • EXCLUSIVE: One of four men charged in the shooting of an accused drug dealer and another man during a Bergenfield home invasion convinced a judge today to lower his bail to $500,000 cash from $650,000. READ MORE….

  • YOU READ IT HERE FIRST: Two men were shot and wounded, one seriously, in the south end of Bergenfield this morning. READ MORE….

  • YOU READ IT HERE FIRST: Three men have been arrested and charged in a drug robbery gone wrong that led to the shootings yesterday of two Bergenfield men, one seriously, Bergen County Prosecutor John L. Molinelli said shortly before 6 p.m. READ MORE….

  • YOU READ IT HERE FIRST: A fourth suspect wanted in the shooting of two men in Bergenfield during a September home invasion was captured by detectives from the Bergen County Prosecutor’s Office and Bergenfield police at an East Orange apartment earlier today. READ MORE ….

  • YOU READ IT HERE FIRST: A lawyer for a man accused of arranging a Labor Day weekend drug and cash robbery in Bergenfield that ended with two men shot — one seriously — asked a judge today to lower his client’s bail, citing his ties to the community and his family. READ MORE….

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