News and Press Releases

Newark man sentenced to more than 17 years in prison for armed bank robbery that ended in shootout with law enforcement

September 7, 2011


NEWARK, N.J. – A 57-year-old Newark man was sentenced today to 215 months in prison for robbing a Bank of America branch in Franklin Township, N.J., on March 12, 2009, U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman announced.

James Holmes pleaded guilty to his role in the robbery shortly before the trial of his two co-conspirators started. Anthony Peterson, 45, and Abdullah Muhammad, 57, both of Newark, were convicted on November 9, 2010, on all three counts of the Indictment against them: conspiracy to commit armed bank robbery, committing armed bank robbery, and using and discharging a firearm in connection with a bank robbery. U.S. District Judge Susan D. Wigenton, who presided over the trial, also imposed sentence today in Newark federal court.

According to the documents filed in this case and the evidence at trial:

The defendants entered the bank a few minutes before closing time on March 12, 2009, wearing masks and brandishing guns. In a little more than three minutes, the defendants stole more than $93,000 in cash, traveler’s checks, money orders and gift cards. After speeding from the bank in a stolen vehicle, they switched to a second stolen vehicle, which was parked less than half a mile from the bank.

During a high-speed vehicle chase through the streets of North Brunswick the defendants fired numerous rounds at a pursuing detective. Several other responding officers joined the chase, which ended when the defendants crashed their vehicle into a security gate, firing numerous rounds at law enforcement officers. The defendants were apprehended after three of them were shot and wounded. One co-conspirator, James Phillips, died on April 4, 2009, as a result of his injuries.

In addition to the prison term, Judge Wigenton ordered Holmes to serve three years of supervised release. Holmes’ 215-month sentence consists of 95 months in prison for the armed robbery and 120 months for the related firearm offense – to run consecutively.

Muhammad was sentenced on May 13, 2011, to 225 months in jail and three years of supervised release. Peterson was sentenced on May 24, 2011, to 562 months in jail and three years of supervised release. In addition to the sentence related to this offense, Judge Wigenton also sentenced Peterson to 81 months in jail for violating supervised release, which related to a prior bank robbery conviction from 1994. Peterson’s 81 month sentence will run consecutive to the 562-month sentence for this offense.

U.S. Attorney Fishman credited special agents of the FBI, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Michael B. Ward in Newark, as well as the Middlesex and Somerset County Prosecutor’s Offices; and officers from the Franklin Township, North Brunswick, and New Brunswick Police Departments, for their invaluable work during the investigation and trial leading to today’s sentence.

The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Lakshmi Srinivasan Herman and Dennis C. Carletta of the U.S. Attorney’s Office Criminal Division in Newark.


Defense counsel: Joshua Donahue Esq., River Edge, N.J.

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