FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
October 4, 2012
TRENTON, N.J. – A Union County, N.J., man employed by the Westfield, N.J., branch of TD Bank, today admitted his role in a plan to rob the bank where he worked, U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman announced.
Jelani Bustamonte, 23, of Elizabeth, N.J., pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Joel A. Pisano in Trenton federal court to an Information charging him with two counts of criminal conspiracy. On Jan. 26, 2012, Bustamonte was arrested at his home and charged by Complaint.
According to documents filed in this case and statements made in court:
The first conspiracy involved a scheme to rob the TD bank tellers in Westfield. The second conspiracy was a plot to rob the vault inside the same bank. The bank was, in fact, robbed Sept. 11, 2011, although the vault was never robbed. Bustamonte admitted that he provided information about the bank’s layout, security and business operations, information that he had gained through his employment, to Julio Ferrer, his co-conspirator, in furtherance of these conspiracies. Ferrer previously pleaded guilty to robbing the Westfield branch of TD Bank on Sept. 11, 2011, and to six other branches of TD Bank in New Jersey between October 2011 and December 2011.
At 2:21 p.m. on Sept. 11, 2011, an individual entered the TD Bank located at 560 North Avenue East, Westfield, and passed a deposit slip across the counter to a bank teller. The bank teller, who was in the process of counting cash at the counter, did not see the handwriting on the note or any monetary amount listed, and attempted to return the slip back to the person. The individual pushed the paper slip back across the counter and ordered the teller to “read it.” The teller read the handwritten note, which stated, “I want all the money lose (sic) bills.”
The teller stepped back upon reading the demand note. The bank robber then reached over the counter, took the cash that the teller had been counting at the counter. The bank’s video surveillance camera recorded the entire incident and captured images of the bank robber.
Bustamonte told law enforcement he discussed robbing the vault with the alleged bank robber and others. He said he advised the bank robber to go with one other person to rob the vault, and that the robber agreed to give Bustamonte up to $50,000 of the money from the vault. Bustamonte said he discussed with the robber the layout of the Westfield branch, and other information, including that he should ask for “loose bills” and not strapped money. He also said he was working at the bank the day it was robbed and recognized the bank robber, but did not disclose his identity to bank personnel or law enforcement.
The charge of criminal conspiracy carries a maximum potential penalty of 5 years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000. Sentencing is scheduled for Feb. 5, 2013.
U.S. Attorney Fishman credited special agents of the FBI under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Michael B. Ward; the Westfield Police Department; and the Union County Prosecutor’s Office with the investigation leading to today’s guilty plea.
The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Jane H. Yoon in Newark.
Anyone with information which may be relevant to this case is encouraged to contact the Newark Division of the FBI at 973-792-3000.
Defense counsel: James P. Nolan Esq., Woodbridge, N.J.