NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) – A New Haven man was sentenced on Tuesday to seven years in prison for carjacking offenses, according to the Department of Justice.
United States Attorney for the District of Connecticut Vanessa Roberts Avery said Tihaja “TJ” Ortiz-Tucker will serve seven years in prison followed by three years of supervised release for conspiracy and carjacking offenses.
According to court records, Ortiz-Tucker and other conspirators posed as buyers for vehicles that were listed for sale online on Facebook Marketplace.
Ortiz-Tucker and the co-conspirators would arrange to meet the people selling their vehicles, under the guise of taking the vehicle for a test drive prior to purchasing it.
After the test drive, Ortiz-Tucker and his co-conspirators would then hold the victims at gunpoint until and forced them to hand over the certificate of title, bills of sale and the ownership documents inside the vehicle.
Authorities said Ortiz-Tucker posed as the owner of the vehicle on at least two occasions. He listed the vehicles for sale on OfferUp and then sold them to unknowing buyers.
According to police, Ortiz-Tucker also participated in the carjackings of two Uber drivers in May 2022. On both occasions, the Uber drivers picked up carjackers in New Haven and drove them to Wallingford where the cars were taken from the driver at gunpoint.
The cars were later recovered in the same area in Hamden, police said.
On July 22, 2022, Ortiz-Tucker was arrested. He later pleaded guilty to three counts of taking a vehicle from a vehicle by force, intimidation and conspiracy. Police said he has been detained since his arrest.
After Ortiz-Tucker was sentenced a 20-year-old New Haven man identified as Ruben Montano was sentenced to four years in prison and three years of supervised release for carjackings connected to Ortiz-Tucker.
On May 2, Montano pleaded guilty to carjacking and he admitted to participating in the carjackings and the sale of the stolen vehicle. He has also been detained.
The investigation was conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Safe Streets Violent Crime Task Force, Connecticut State Police and the Wallingford, New Haven, Hamden, Waterbury and Bridgeport police departments.