Vanessa Roberts Avery, United States Attorney for the District of Connecticut, announced that GEORGE RIVERA, also known as “Pito,” 33, of Danbury, was sentenced today by U.S. District Judge Stefan R. Underhill in Bridgeport to 120 months of imprisonment, followed by three years of supervised release, for his role in a plan to murder an individual and set fire to the Bridgeport business where he worked.
According to court documents and statements made in court, in early morning hours of April 2, 2018, Bridgeport Police patrolling the west side of Bridgeport attempted to stop a car that was operating with unlit taillights. The car fled from police and, during the police pursuit, officers observed several items being thrown from its windows. After the car stopped several blocks away, officers arrested Luis Mercado, who was driving the car, and Dominick Gonzalez, and recovered two loaded handguns and a quantity of marijuana that had been thrown from the car. A search of the car also revealed a black ski mask, a pair of binoculars, and a container of gasoline. The investigation revealed that Mercado, Gonzalez, Rivera, Jason Scott and Luis Mejias were involved in a plan to murder an individual and set fire to the Wood Avenue Body Shop in Bridgeport where the individual worked.
Rivera, Scott and Mejias were arrested later that morning at a hotel in Milford. A search of a hotel room revealed a loaded Smith and Wesson model M&P 15-22 caliber rifle, a loaded Taurus “Judge” revolver, a loaded Anderson Manufacturing AR 15 multi-caliber rifle, a loaded 12-gauge shotgun, additional ammunition, brass knuckles, binoculars, gloves and a knit mask. Investigators also located a seized packaged heroin, ecstasy pills, marijuana, a digital scale and other items in the room, and ammunition and shotgun shells in the trunk of their car.
Each defendant has a criminal history that includes multiple felony convictions. It is a violation of federal law for a person previously convicted of a felony offense to possess a firearm or ammunition that has moved in interstate or foreign commerce. Specifically, Rivera’s criminal history includes convictions for firearm, drug, burglary, robbery and assault offenses.
On March 25, 2022, Rivera pleaded guilty to possession of a firearm by a felon.
Mercado, Gonzalez, Mejias and Scott also pleaded guilty, and Mercado, Mejias and Scott were each sentenced earlier this week to 10 years of imprisonment. Gonzalez awaits sentencing.
This matter has been investigated by the FBI’s Bridgeport Safe Streets Task Force and the Bridgeport and Milford Police Departments. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Karen L. Peck.