Appellate judges have denied the appeal of a 27-year-old Seaside Heights man who was convicted in 2011 of committing armed robbery under the boardwalk, according to the Ocean County Prosecutor's Office.
The defendant Peter Rusch, 27, of Seaside Heights was tried in June of 2011 on 3 counts: first degree armed robbery, third degree possession of a knife for an unlawful purpose and 4th degree unlawful possession of a knife. The state presented a multitude of witnesses over approximately 10 days of trial.
The Office of the Public defender appealed to the Appellate Division on Rusch’s behalf, and on Friday, two judges affirmed the conviction and sentence. At the appellate level, Deputy Attorney General Emily R. Anderson handled the case for the state.
The case stemmed from a Seaside Heights incident which took place over two days from July 23, 2009 to July 24, 2009. The victim, identified as G.M. was ultimately robbed after he allegedly tried to purchase cocaine from Rusch, authorities said.
The defendant lured G.M. under the boardwalk, subsequently assaulted him and held a knife to his throat while taking $60 to $100. The victim finally escaped his predicament and ran home.
Later, on July 24, G.M. ran into the defendant again on the boardwalk where he was assaulted a second time. The victim and defendant were strangers to one another.
On June 23, 2011 a jury came back after eight hours of deliberation with a guilty verdict on count one of first degree armed robbery and guilty of count three of fourth degree unlawful possession of a knife.
Assistant Ocean County Prosecutor Ehsan F. Chowdhry simultaneously filed and presented the court, defendant and defense counsel a motion for an extended term of imprisonment seeking a term of up to life imprisonment based on defendant's prior record.
Rusch was sentenced ultimately on September 1, 2011 to 17 years on the armed robbery charge subject to a period of parole ineligibility of 85 percent pursuant to the No Early Release Act. Also, upon his release, the defendant is subject to a strict period of parole supervision of 5 years.
The defendant is currently housed in New Jersey State Prison. His current eligibility date before he can even be considered for parole is January 4, 2024.
The case was successfully tried by Assistant Ocean County Prosecutor Ehsan F. Chowdhry, ESQ. and Assistant Ocean County Prosecutor Ian M. Goldman, ESQ. Rusch’s trial defense attorney was George B. Somers, Jr, ESQ. The trial judge was the Honorable James Den Uyl, J.S.C.