A Mercer County grand jury recently returned a 37-count indictment
charging two men in three home invasions in the Avalon Run apartment complex in Lawrence, Acting Mercer County Prosecutor Angelo J. Onofri announced today.
Trenton resident John Gaines, 23, was named in 35 of the indictment counts. He is charged with multiple counts of carjacking, kidnapping, robbery, weapons offenses, criminal restraint, burglary, theft and making terroristic threats. The charges stem from three separate incidents at the Avalon Run apartment complex in Lawrence Township in 2015.
On August 12, Gaines and co-defendant Righteous Laster allegedly entered a first-floor apartment in the Avalon Run complex through an unlocked sliding door. They held the occupant of the apartment at knifepoint while they searched his apartment. The men then forced the victim into his own car, took him to two ATM machines, and forced him to withdraw money. The victim was then driven to Trenton and released unharmed.
On September 9, Gaines allegedly returned to the apartment complex and knocked on a door in Building No. 6. When the victim opened the door, he was allegedly met by Gaines, who entered
the apartment armed with a handgun. He forced the victim to drive to a nearby bank and withdraw money from his account. He then forced the victim to turn over the money and drive him to Trenton, where Gaines fled on foot and left the victim unharmed.
On September 14, Gaines allegedly repeated the pattern in Building No. 2. Armed again with a weapon, he forced the four occupants of the apartment into a rear room of the apartment. Gaines left after about 10 minutes and the victims were unharmed.
Laster, age 20, also of Trenton, is named in 16 counts of the indictment related to the August 12 crime, including carjacking, kidnapping, robbery, weapons offenses, criminal restraint, burglary, theft and making terroristic threats.
The indictment is a result of an investigation by Detective Sergeant Joseph Lech IV and Detective Todd Caruso of the Lawrence Township Police Department. The U.S. Marshals New York and New Jersey Regional Fugitive Task Force, the Mercer County Prosecutor’s Office, the New Jersey State Police, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Trenton Police Department assisted in the investigation.
Laster was arrested on August 24. Gaines was arrested on October 10 by members of the Lawrence Police Department and the U.S. Marshals New York and New Jersey Regional Fugitive Task Force. Both men remain in jail on bail. Assistant Prosecutor Scott Gershman presented the case to the grand jury.