Geoffrey S. Berman, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, and Special Agent in Charge James Hunt, New York Division, U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration announced that earlier today, Robert Pizarro and Juan Rivera were convicted of murdering a witness to prevent reporting to law enforcement, kidnapping conspiracy, kidnapping resulting in death, robbery conspiracy, robbery, and firearms offenses, arising out of the murder of federal cooperating witness Robert Bishun on Sept. 20, 2016.
Manhattan U.S. Attorney Geoffrey S. Berman said: “Just over two years ago, Robert Bishun was violently kidnapped and brutally murdered by the defendants because he was a federal cooperating witness. Today, the jury in this case returned a unanimous verdict holding the defendants accountable for their heinous crimes. We hope that today’s result brings some small measure of peace to Robert Bishun’s family.”
According to the proof introduced at trial:
On September 20, 2016, Pizarro and Rivera attempted to rob Robert Bishun at gunpoint inside his auto body shop in the Bronx; during the attempted robbery, two customers were bound with zip ties and locked in the trunks of separate vehicles inside the shop. Upon learning that Bishun was a federal cooperating witness, Pizarro and Rivera kidnapped Bishun from his shop and strangled him to death with a plastic zip tie, before abandoning Bishun’s body in the back of his own vehicle on the side of the road.
On a prior occasion, in January 2015, Pizarro and another accomplice stormed into Bishun’s auto body shop and robbed Robert Bishun at gunpoint, taking approximately $10,000 in cash from Bishun. During the course of the robbery, two customers were bound with zip ties.
Pizarro, 38, of the Bronx, faces a mandatory minimum sentence of life in prison plus 32 years. Rivera, 41, also of the Bronx, faces a mandatory minimum sentence of life in prison plus 7 years.
Mr. Berman praised the investigative efforts of the DEA’s REDRUM Group at the New York Drug Enforcement Task Force comprising agents and officers of the DEA, New York City Police Department and the New York State Police; and the Special Agents of the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York.
The case is being prosecuted by the Office’s Violent and Organized Crime Unit. Assistant United States Attorneys Jason Swergold, Jessica Fender, Jared Lenow, and Margaret Graham are in charge of the prosecution.