HACKENSACK – William Galusso just wanted to see his children.
That desire, plus a promise of a cut of the proceeds to pay his travel expenses, is why he agreed to act as a lookout for the mugging of a courier who was beaten up and robbed of approximately $60,000 in Mahwah in 2013, his attorney said Friday.
“They convinced him to do something very stupid,”
Galusso’s attorney, Ron Bar-Nadav, said of his client’s co-defendants. “And as a result he has paid a very steep price.”
But Superior Court Judge Edward Jerejian, who sentenced Galusso to three years in prison on Friday, wasn’t buying the story.
Galusso has been described as the organizer of the plot, and Jerejian said a one-armed man – later the other suspects to commit the robbery. Galusso, 45, lost his right arm below the elbow at age 4 after it became caught in a meat grinder, according to Bar-Nadav.
“You were thoroughly involved in this,” Jerejian said.
“Why don’t you accept responsibility for it?”
Galusso was one of five meri indicted last year forthe Jan. 22, 2013, robbery of a courier who had just owned by ADDP Enterprises. The courier was in Mahwah when he was confronted by two men,
Luis Bernabel. The courier was punched in the chest and head, and a bag of cash was taken from him.
A fourth man, Alexander Bergero, 36, allegedly drove the car that followed the courier on his rounds that
according to authorities.
All of the defendants are from Elizabeth except Galusso, who is from Miami but has family in New Jersey
and was working in the area, according to Bar-Nadav.
Aurothorities said Galusso was arrested several months after the robbery as he was aboutto board a flight to Miami.
Bar-Nadav sought Friday to cast his client as a dupe who was told the robbery never happened and was
cut out of his promised share of the stolen funds.
Galusso was supposed to be paid about $1,000 for his role in the robbery, and had hoped to use the money to buy a plane ticket to Uruguay, where his two children live, Bar-Nadav said.
“He was trying to get back home to see his family,” said Bar-Nadav, who hugged his client after Jerejian handed down his sentence.
Galusso has already served 625 days in jail, which will be applied to his three-year sentence. Jerejian also ordered him to pay restitution. His co-defendants also have been ordered to repay the stolen money.
Pena-Santana, Filloy and Bernabel also received three-year prison sentences, according to court records.
The disposition of Bergero’s case was not available Friday.