The Asbury Park Press reports: A 43-year-old Seaside Heights man who admitted driving much younger men to violently rob Orthodox Jews was sentenced yesterday morning to 25 years in prison for his role in the crimes.
Before he was sentenced, Jose Diaz Jr. of Franklin Boulevard professed to have no advance knowledge that violence was going to be imparted during the crimes.
But First Assistant Ocean County Prosecutor Ronald F. DeLigny said Diaz was almost twice as old as the two men he transported to the crimes, and he did that “knowing full well” the victims of the robberies were likely to be injured.
“I didn’t know who was getting hurt,” he told Superior Court Judge James Den Uyl. “I knew about a robbery, but hurting somebody, no, I don’t think so. I don’t hate nobody.”
Diaz pleaded guilty on Sept. 21 to conspiracy to commit robbery and bias intimidation in connection with an incident on May 25, 2008 in Lakewood in which David Davidovish, then 38 and visiting from Israel, was attacked with a baseball bat and robbed of several hundred dollars and a laptop computer. Authorities said a codefendant, Devon Hardy, 20, of Lakewood smashed the windshield of Davidovish’s car with a baseball bat as the victim was parked in the lot of a convenience store on Route 9.
Diaz also pleaded guilty to robbery and bias intimidation in connection with an incident on July 8, 2008 in Lakewood in which a rabbi, Jack Goldbaum, then 41, of Lakewood was accosted in front of his home.
Diaz has admitted that he drove Hardy and Timothy Swift, 19, of Toms River to that robbery, knowing that Hardy was armed with a knife. Goldbaum was punched and stabbed four times, and his wallet stolen.
Authorities said Orthodox Jews were targeted because they were unlikely to resist the robberies.
Den Uyl ordered that 15 years of Diaz’s 25-year sentence be subject to the state’s No Early Release Act, which requires that 85 percent of the term be served before he can be considered for release on parole.
Den Uyl on Oct. 9 sentenced Hardy to 30 years in prison for the two robberies, and Swift to 10 years in prison for the robbery he participated in. Both must serve 85 percent of their prison terms before they can be considered for release on parole.