Gotcha! Five Charged With Rash Of Bergen Armed Wristwatch Robberies, Stabbing In PalPark

Authorities have charged five men with robbing three separate victims of wristwatches – stabbing one of them – in two Bergen County towns, thanks to an arrest by Port Authority police.

Albeiro Melendez-Gerardi, Melvin Ochoa, Carlos Olivera-Natera

Albeiro Melendez-Gerardi, Melvin Ochoa, Carlos Olivera-Natera

Photo Credit: BCSO

Two of the robberies occurred in broad daylight on River Road in Edgewater last fall, Bergen County Prosecutor Mark Musella said on Friday, March 1.

The third included a stabbing in the victim’s driveway in Palisades Park, the prosecutor said.

One of two robbers brandished a handgun while a colleague stood lookout when they robbed the first Edgewater victim shortly after 3 a.m. Oct. 24, Musella said.

The robbers fled in separate waiting getaway cars driven by cohorts, he said

Detectives from Musella’s office and Edgewater police believe the victim was followed from Hudson County to the robbery scene.

Two robbers were again assisted by a lookout when they approached a Palisades Park resident in the driveway of his East Palisades Boulevard home shortly after 10 p.m. Nov. 3.

After grabbing him from behind, they held the victim down – with one of them claiming he had a gun – before stabbing him and yanking off his wristwatch, Musella said.

Once again they fled in separate cars with different drivers, he said.

The detectives in that instance believe the victim was followed from New York City.

The third victim was jumped as she exited her car at an unspecified River Road shopping center in Edgewater shortly before 4 p.m. Nov. 9, the prosecutor said.

Again, it was two robbers – one with a handgun – with a lookout, he said.

One of them covered the woman’s mouth while the other pulled the watch from her wrist.

The robbers had fled in separate cars when Edgewater police broadcast a description of one of the vehicles.

Port Authority police stopped it a short time later and arrested the driver, Carlos Olivera-Natera, 18, of the Bronx.

Musella’s Special Investigations Squad detectives identified four more targets before long.

First they arrested Melvin Ochoa, 22, who lives in Manhattan’s Financial District. Ochoa was taken into custody on Nov. 27, 2023 and extradited to New Jersey 10 days later. He’s remained in the Bergen County Jail ever since, records show.

It was on Dec. 4 when the investigators – assisted by the FBI – located Albeiro Melendez-Gerardi, 28, in Florida. Melendez-Gerardi, who lives a block up 7th Avenue from Madison Square Garden was also extradited to New Jersey and remains held in the county lockup, records show.

The detectives then filed additional charges against Olivera-Natera. He, too, remains in the Bergen County Jail.

Both Olivera-Natera and Ochoa are Venezuelan nationals, while Melendez-Gerardi is a Colombian national, according to jail records.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents have filed detainers that will hold all three in the county lockup. Such detainers are sought whenever immigrants suspected of living here illegally go to the jail in Hackensack.

Immigration judges will hold hearings in federal court in Newark to officially determine their status and, then, whether any or all three should be deported – and if so, when.

If a local judge in Hackensack orders any of them released for some unexpected reason -- say, bail reform -- ICE has requested a 48-hour hold so that immigration agents can take custody of them before that can happen.

The final two defendants were captured last month but haven't yet made it to the jail.

Luis Pacheco Tovar, 28, of the Bronx was nabbed in the city with help from the FBI and NYPD, Musella said. Victor Noguera-Leon, 28, of Nashville, Tennessee was caught in Texas.

Both remained held pending extradition to New Jersey.

Charges against all five include first-degree robbery, aggravated assault and weapons offenses.

Melendez-Gerardi and Olivera-Natera were also charged with conspiracy and theft in connection with all three robberies. Tovar was charged with conspiracy and theft in connection with two of the holdups.

Musella thanked police from Edgewater, Palisades Park, The Port Authority and the the NYPD, as well as the Bergen County Sheriff’s Office and FBI.

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