Danni Rivera of Rahay, the reputed leader of the Ñetas street gang and David Santana of Perth Amboy, an alleged gang member were indicted for their roles in a kidnapping in which a young man was beaten, taken to a motel in Sayreville, and held at gunpoint, the state Attorney General‘s office announced Wednesday.
Two other Ñetas members previously pleaded guilty in connection with the December 2009 kidnapping.
Rivera, 28, the alleged leader of the Ñetas in Perth Amboy, and Santana, 21, are charged in a state grand jury indictment with kidnapping, conspiracy and aggravated assault. Santana is also charged with unlawful possession of a weapon, possession of a weapon for an unlawful purpose and terroristic threats.
The indictment supersedes an April 20, 2010 indictment that charged Santana and two other men, Oswaldo Santillan Jr., 20, of Perth Amboy, and Hector Montoya-Garay, 22, of Perth Amboy. Santillan pleaded guilty on May 16 to first-degree kidnapping and faces a prison sentence of up to 30 years, 85 percent of which must be served without parole under the No Early Release Act. Montoya-Garay pleaded guilty on March 18 to third-degree criminal restraint and faces up to five years in prison.
The indictment stems from a joint investigation by the state Division of Criminal Justice and the Perth Amboy police, conducted with the assistance of the Middlesex County Prosecutor's Office, Carteret police and the U.S. Marshals Service.
“We charge that Danni Rivera ordered this brutal abduction as a leader of the Ñetas in Perth Amboy,” Attorney General Paula T. Dow said. “If convicted of kidnapping, he would face a sentence of up to 30 years in state prison.”
“We will continue to work closely with our local, county and federal law enforcement partners to target the leaders of the street gangs that are bringing violence to our communities,” state Criminal Justice Director Stephen J. Taylor said. “This was an excellent cooperative investigation.”
The investigation revealed that the victim had gotten into trouble with Rivera. It is alleged that Rivera, as local leader of the Ñetas, ordered the other three men to carry out the kidnapping. In pleading guilty, Santillan admitted that he and Santana ambushed the 18-year-old victim at a house in Perth Amboy on Dec. 5, 2009, forcing him into a van driven by Montoya-Garay. Santillan also admitted that he and Santana beat the victim inside the van and outside at a remote location. The victim suffered a broken nose, black eyes, cuts and other injuries. Santillan said they then took the victim to a motel in Sayreville, where they held him at gunpoint and threatened to kill him.
The victim escaped after Santillan and Santana departed, leaving Montoya-Garay to guard him. The next day, Montoya-Garay falsely reported the van stolen to the Perth Amboy police.
Isis Rivera, 26, of Perth Amboy, was charged by the Middlesex Prosecutor’s Office in connection with the case. She was charged with hindering apprehension for harboring Santillan in her residence after he was charged with the kidnapping and was being sought as a fugitive. She was admitted by the court into the Pre-Trial Intervention Program on Sept. 29, 2010.
The indictment was handed up to state Superior Court Judge Pedro J. Jimenez Jr., who assigned the case to Middlesex County. Santana are being held in jail, Rivera without bail, and Santana with bail set at $500,000.
The first-degree kidnapping charge carries a maximum sentence of 30 years in state prison and a $200,000 fine. Second-degree crimes carry a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison and a $150,000 fine. The kidnapping and conspiracy charges carry a mandatory period of parole ineligibility equal to 85 percent of the sentence imposed under the No Early Release Act. The weapons offenses carry a mandatory period of parole ineligibility equal to one-third to one-half of the sentence imposed. Third-degree crimes carry a maximum sentence of five years in prison and a $15,000 fine.
Deputy Attorney General J. Michael Wicke presented the case to the grand jury and took the earlier guilty pleas. The investigation was conducted and coordinated for the Division of Criminal Justice Gangs & Organized Crime Bureau by Wicke, Sgt. Keith Stopko, Lt. Richard Nocella and Detectives Tim Savage, Edward Augustyn, Scott Caponi, Cortney Lawrence and Richard Aitken; and for the Perth Amboy police by Lt. Phil Terranova, Sgt. Joseph Breyta and Detectives Carl Graham, Mabner Terron, Carlos Rodriguez, Mohamed Mohamed, Jessica DeJesus, R.B Harris, Chris Joy and Sandra Rivera.
—TOM HESTER SR., NEWJERSEYNEWSROOM.COM