Elizabeth man sentenced for robbery, drug possession

ELIZABETH — An Elizabeth man who was arrested for possession of crack cocaine on the eve of his sentencing date for an armed robbery late last year received a combined term of eight years in state prison on Friday, said acting Union County Prosecutor Grace Park.

Laquan Shirley, 29, must serve at least 85 percent of the sentence before becoming eligible for parole under the parameters of New Jersey’s No Early Release Act, according to the terms imposed by state Superior Court Judge Joseph Donohue. Shirley was sentenced to eight years for the robbery with a concurrent three-year sentence for the drug charge.

The date of the robbery was Sept. 30, 2012 when a white Ford Taurus approached the robbery victim, according to Union County Assistant Prosecutors Robert Rosenthal and Jill O’Malley, who prosecuted the case. Shirley got out of the vehicle, walked up to the man, and demanded he turn over all of his possessions, Rosenthal and O’Malley said.

An iPhone and an accompanying charger were taken from the victim, who spotted the barrel of what appeared to be a handgun in Shirley’s hand, according to the investigation. Shirley then got into his car and drove away, but a witness immediately approached the victim and handed him a slip of paper with the license plate of the Taurus.

About an hour later, Elizabeth police officers spotted Shirley’s vehicle on Bond Street, and when they peered inside, they spotted the stolen iPhone in the center console and the firearm – which turned out to be an Airsoft pellet gun – in the backseat.

Shirley pleaded guilty to the robbery in September 2013. He was expected to receive six years in prison for the robbery when he was sentenced on Oct. 25, 2013, but the night before, while he remained free on bail, police officers spotted him loitering in the area of 3rd Street in Elizabeth.

When the officers approached him to address the matter of an outstanding traffic warrant out of Hillside, Shirley was found to be in possession of 13 vials of crack cocaine.

Shirley pleaded guilty to the drug charge in January. He had four prior indictable convictions on an unrelated drug charge, resisting arrest, and two counts of receiving stolen property.

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