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Defendants indicted in Bergenfield drug robbery shootings

Photo Credit: Mary K. Miraglia, CLIFFVIEW PILOT Courthouse Reporter
Photo Credit: Mary K. Miraglia
Photo Credit: Bergen County Prosecutor's Office

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.

The 22-count indictment charges Christian Nova, Zakeer Roberts, Hasan “Smoke” Sly with the Sept. 1, 2013 break-in and shooting of John Newcomb and Gilbert Mercado with the intention of killing them.

CLOCKWISE: Zakeer Roberts, Mario Ferreira, Christian Nova
(FILE PHOTOS: Mary K. Miraglia)

Authorities at the time said two men pulled the triggers. The indictment charges all three equally, along with the alleged wheelman, Mario Ferreira.

The grand jury also accuses the men of confining Newcomb, Mercado and a third victim, a woman, for a “substantial period of time to facilitate commission of [the holdup].”

All four are also charged with 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.

A fifth defendant, James Atwoods, was arrested when authorities came looking for Sly at his East Orange apartment. Both men are charged with maintaining a heroin and cocaine manufacturing facility, along with various other cocaine, heroin and marijuana possession counts.

Despite having his bail lowered twice, Ferreira remained held on $400,000 in the Bergen County Jail.

Nova, 22, of Englewood, was released on $250,000 bail after a similar request was granted.

Prosecutors believe that Nova set up the Labor Day crime by telling Sly and Roberts, both of East Orange, that the victims were drug dealers and would have drugs and money.

However, they said, it was Ferreira who drove to the Westfield Avenue home house and waited for Sly and Roberts to rob the two men, knowing fully well what was planned.

Bergenfield police responded to a 911 call at the house just before 10 a.m. on Sept. Sunday and found both Mercado and Newcomb shot.

An investigation by the Bergen County Prosecutor’s Office Major Crimes Squad and the Bergenfield Police Department showed that the gunmen went to the house “with the intent to rob Mercado of both money and narcotics,” Bergen County Prosecutor John L. Molinelli said at the time.

Nova told Ferriera that Mercado “was known as having sold narcotics in the past and would have both money and narcotics in his possession,” Molinelli said.

Nova “had some past dealings with Mercado” and “arranged for Mercado to be robbed by both [men],” he added.

Neither Mercado nor Newcomb knew them, the prosecutor said.

Hassan Sly (MUGSHOT: Bergen County Prosecutor’s Office)

Nova was picked up the night of the shooting.

Molinelli’s detectives arrested the 25-year-old Roberts and Ferriera, 23, a day later, with help from East Orange police and a Newark police SWAT team.

Then, on Jan. 8, authorities grabbed Sly in an East Orange apartment.
TOP (l. to r.): Zakeer Roberts, Mario Ferreira, Christian Nova (FILE PHOTOS: Mary K. Miraglia, CLIFFVIEW PILOT Courthouse Reporter)

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THE STORY SO FAR:

  • 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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