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Somerset Man, Accomplice Charged With Armed Robberies Of Township Convenience Stores

New Hamilton Street Neighborhood Police Team plays role in bust.

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Joseph I. Amante, left, of Somerset and Nicholas P. Zahirny, right, of Jersey City were charged July 23 in connection with two armed robberies of township convenience stores, and a home burglary. Photos: Somerset County Prosecutor’s Office.


A township man was among two people arrested July 23 in connection with the armed robberies of two township convenience stores and a home burglary.

The duo and another woman were nabbed when they were seen by a member of the recently deployed Hamilton Street Neighborhood Police Team apparently preparing to rob one of the convenience stores a second time, according to a release on the arrests from the Somerset County Prosecutor’s Office.

Joseph I. Amante, 28, of Somerset, Nicholas P. Zahirny, 23, of Jersey City and Emily MacCarter, 23, of Brick Township were arrested in the parking lot of the 6Ten convenience store and deli in Hamilton Street, according to the release.

Township Patrolman Steven Ellmyer, a member of the NPT, noticed a gray Pontiac Grand Am in the store’s parking lot at about 12:25 p.m., according to the release. Ellmyer recognized the auto as fitting the description of the suspect’s getaway vehicle in the 6Ten robbery, which occurred at about midnight on July 14.

Ellmyer watched the car as it traveled slowly through the parking lot, according to the release. Township Police Lt. Darrin Russo soon arrived, and the two approached the car, according to the release.

The car’s occupants were identified as being “persons of interest” in prior armed robbers in the township, according to the release.

The officers were soon joined by township Detectives Derek Miller and Drew Lea, who were investigating the armed robberies, the release said.

According to the release, the investigation revealed that Zahirny allegedly committed the July 14 armed robberies of the 6Ten and the DMart store on Somerset Street, during which an undisclosed amount of money and cigarettes was stolen.

Police said Amante was the driver of the getaway car in both armed robberies.

Police determined that Zahirny and Amante were planning to once again rob the 6Ten store when they were caught, according to the release.

Police said they also found a black semi-automatic Airsoft gun in the car. Airsoft guns are replica guns used in games and training exercises.

The investigation also revealed that Zahirny and Amante allegedly burglarized a Carmen Street home on July 22, according to the release.

Zahirny was charged with two counts of 1st Degree Armed Robbery, 1st Degree Conspiracy to Commit Robbery, 3rd Degree Burglary, 3rd Degree Theft, 4th Degree Possession of a Weapon for an Unlawful Purpose and Possession of a Hypodermic Needle, a Disorderly Persons Offense.

Amante was charged with two counts of 1st Degree Armed Robbery, 1st Degre Conspiracy to Commit Robbery, 3rd Degree Burglary, 3rd Degree Theft, 4th Degree Possession of a Weapon for an Unlawful Purpose, 4th Degree Tampering with Physical Evidence and Possession of a Hypodermic Needle, a Disorderly Persons Offense.

Zahirny and Amante were lodged in the Somerset County Jail, Somerville, on $250,000 cash bail, according to the release.

MacCarter was charged with Possession of a Hypodermic Needle, a Disorderly Persons Offense and was released on her own recognizance, according to the release.

Authorities ask anyone with information regarding these incidents to contact the Franklin Township Police Department at (732) 873-5533, the Somerset County Prosecutors Office Major Crimes Unit at (908) 231-7100, or the Somerset County Crime Stoppers’ Tip Line at 1-888-577-TIPS (8477) or online at www.888577tips.org or www.scpo.net and click on either “Crime Stoppers” or “TIPS HOTLINE”. All anonymous Crime Stopper tips will be kept confidential.

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