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Final convict in East Rutherford ‘Muslim-garb’ pizzeria robbery gets eight years

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

ONLY ON CVP: A 19-year-old Elizabeth woman who admitted robbing a Papa John’s in East Rutherford in Muslim garb with her sister and two accomplices was sentenced today in Hackensack to eight years in state prison.

Jessica Morales — who already has six arrests on her adult criminal record — will serve the sentence concurrently with one out of Union County for a similar crime. She won’t be eligible for parole for the Bergen conviction for at least 6½ years.

She also must pay $585 restitution for the cash stolen from Papa John’s, and an iPhone that belonged to a customer.

Jessica Morales STORY / PHOTOS: Mary K. Miraglia, CLIFFVIEW PILOT Courthouse Reporter

Morales has been convicted of a drug offense in Mercer County and an assault, kidnapping, and 2013 armed robbery in Union County.

The bizarre East Rutherford holdup was carried out by Morales, her sister Vanessa and 22-year-old Michael Gomez-Polanco of Union on Dec. 15, 2012, when the sisters were 17 and 16.

Two employees and two customers were robbed and threatened with a BB-gun carried by Gomez-Polanco and knives by each sister, authorities said.

Before the robbery, the three had gone to Newark with confessed ringleader Whendy Laurencio-Blanco and bought Musim-style hijabs that they wore as disguises.

Laurencio-Blanco remained in the car as a lookout while the others went inside.

Both sisters pleaded guilty and agreed to testify against their co-defendants, who ultimately took pleas themselves.

Vanessa Morales was sentenced in June to six years in prison.

Gomez-Polanco got 12 years and Laurencio-Blanco eight years.

STORY / PHOTOS: Mary K. Miraglia, CLIFFVIEW PILOT Courthouse Reporter
RELATED:

ONLY ON CVP: A woman who authorities called the brains behind the robbery of an East Rutherford Papa John’s by three people in Muslim garb is headed to state prison for at least eight years. READ MORE….

EXCLUSIVE: A Dominican man who, at 22 years old, already has an extensive criminal record, admitted robbing a Papa John’s Pizza in East Rutherford last year with three female accomplices dressed in Muslim clothing. READ MORE….

YOU READ IT HERE FIRST: East Rutherford police this weekend took all four suspects in the brazen holdup of a Papa John’s Pizza days earlier into custody this weekend. READ MORE….

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