NEWARK, NJ – A Bergen County man admitted Wednesday to robbing four banks, a liquor store, and a gas station between June 2017 and December 2017, according to U.S. Attorney Craig Carpenito.
Joel Robbins, 47, of Oradell pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Katharine S. Hayden in Newark federal court to an information charging him with four counts of bank robbery and two counts of Hobbs Act robbery.
According to documents filed in this case and statements made in court, Robbins robbed the Chase Bank in Whippany on June 6, 2017, the Santander Bank in Parsippany on July 20, 2017, The Liquor Factory in Hopatcong on October 15, 2017, the Chase Bank on Edgewater on October 25, 2017, the Raceway Gas Station in Pinebrook onNovember 26, 2017 and the TD Bank in Mahwah on December 3, 2017.
In the TD Bank robbery, Robbins walked into the bank wearing gray pants, a black jacket, sunglasses, a dark skull cap, and light-colored latex gloves. As he entered the bank, Robbins pulled a bandana over his face. Robbins’s accomplice, Wanda Soel, 52, of Hasbrouck Heights, New Jersey, allegedly waited for Robbins in a Toyota Corolla parked outside the bank.
Robbins pulled a black handgun (later determined to be fake) from his waistband and pointed it at two bank tellers, demanded money from them and warned them not to “make me have to kill you.” The tellers complied and handed Robbins money. Robbins took the money and walked out of the bank, dropping several bills as he departed.
Robbins got into the passenger seat of the Corolla and Soel allegedly drove them away. Nearby law enforcement officers, who had received a report of the bank robbery while it was in progress, pursued the Corolla. Soel allegedly drove into the parking lot of a nearby hotel, where she and Robbins tried to switch places so Robbins could drive. When Soel got out of the Corolla, she tripped and fell, and Robbins drove away without her. Law enforcement officers arrested Soel in the hotel parking lot. Her bank robbery charges are pending.
Robbins drove out of the hotel parking lot but eventually hit a curb, blew a tire, and crashed. Law enforcement officers caught up to the Corolla and arrested Robbins. They recovered U.S. currency sticking out of Robbins’s pants and other cash bills strewn inside the Corolla, along with a fake black handgun. Officers also recovered sunglasses, a bandana, a dark knit cap, and latex gloves from the Corolla, resembling the items Robbins was seen wearing when he robbed the bank. Robbins was wearing a black jacket when he was arrested.
The counts of bank robbery and Hobbs Act robbery with which Robbins is charged each carry a maximum punishment of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.