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Ridgefield Ex-Con Admits 3-State Rampage That Ended In GWB Crash

INSET: Figueroa
INSET: Figueroa Photo Credit: Courtesy

FORT LEE, N.J. -- A career criminal on Thursday admitted going on a three-state rampage in which he kidnapped and raped his ex-girlfriend in Pennsylvania, torched a used car dealership in Paterson and crashed a stolen SUV at each end of the George Washington Bridge.

Under the terms of a deal with the government, Luis Figueroa, 37, pleaded guilty on Thursday to several counts of a federal grand jury indictment in exchange for a 26-year prison sentence:

  • kidnapping;
  • possession of a firearm by a convicted felon;
  • assaulting an employee of the United States;
  • arson.

Figueroa – who had addresses in Ridgefield and the Bronx at the time -- will have to serve nearly all of his sentence: There’s no parole in the federal prison system.

Figueroa had been wanted on outstanding DWI warrants when he waited outside the Hazleton, PA apartment of his former girlfriend the morning of June 6, 2014, then hit her in the head with a 12-gauge shotgun and kidnapped her.

He drove to New Jersey, eventually stopping at a rest area near the Kittatinny Point Visitor’s Center, which is federal property.

Figueroa got out to ditch the shotgun when the woman slid into the driver’s seat and drove to a local post office in Warren County, where she was found bleeding from the head, fading in and out of consciousness.

Back at the rest stop, Figueroa hid the shotgun, attacked a national parks service worker and stole the worker’s minivan, State Police said.

He then went to a Hosanna Motors on Totowa Avenue in Paterson and tried trading in the stolen vehicle for the Escalade, authorities said.

When the salesperson refused, Figueroa got a portable gas can, filled it at a nearby service station, then returned to the dealership.

After a brief struggle with a dealership employee, Figueroa doused an office shed with the gasoline and ignited a fire that engulfed it.

He set himself on fire in the process, extinguishing the flames with a garden hose.

Then he took off in a white SUV.

The SUV later struck a marked Port Authority Suburban with one officer inside at the George Washington Bridge’s upper level toll plaza, pushing it onto a concrete divider.

It continued across the bridge, hitting a PAPD sedan at the 179th Street ramp, he said.

Figueroa abandoned the disabled Cadillac at the ramp to 179th Street and tried to run but was quickly caught by Port Authority officers.

Police found a machete in the car.

Figueroa was hospitalized at Weill Cornell Medical Center with burns from the dealership fire.

Three PAPD officers were treated for cuts and bruises at Holy Name Medical Center in Teaneck.

Senior U.S. District Judge Stanley R. Chesler scheduled sentencing for July 19 in Newark.

U.S. Attorney Craig Carpenito credited special agents of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives’ Newark Field Ofice with the investigation leading to Thursday’s plea, secured by Assistant U.S. Attorney Jamari Buxton.

Carpenito also thanked the Hazelton City Police Department, the Luzerne County, PA District Attorney’s Office, the N.J. State Police, the prosecutor’s offices from Warren, Passaic and Bergen counties, Port Authority police and the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office for their assistance.

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