FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 15, 2011
NEWARK, N.J. – A Washington, N.J., man who allegedly committed five bank robberies in different New Jersey counties appeared in federal court this afternoon to face related charges, U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman announced.
Joseph Pennello, 46, appeared before U.S. Magistrate Judge Patty Shwartz on a Complaint charging him with five counts of bank robbery. Judge Shwartz ordered the defendant detained following the proceeding.
According to the Complaint filed yesterday in Newark federal court:
Pennello is charged with robbing banks scattered throughout Bergen, Union and Warren Counties. The Complaint references Pennello’s alleged conduct related to the robberies, as follows:
Date Bank Amount Stolen
January 29, 2011 PNC Bank; Washington, N.J. $2,279
February 6, 2011 TD Bank; Scotch Plains, N.J. $2,810
February 11, 2011 PNC Bank; Hackensack, N.J. $3,335
February 18, 2011 Chase Bank; Hackettstown, N.J. $8,531
March 10, 2011 Wells Fargo Bank; Rutherford, N.J. $1,099
Pennello entered the banks and demanded money from the tellers, either verbally or using notes. During the robbery of the TD Bank in Scotch Plains, Pennello’s note demanded all the money in the teller’s drawer. He also passed a note to a teller at the PNC Bank in Hackensack which read, “This is a robbery. No alarms. No dye-packs. No tracers. No one gets hurts [sic].” At the PNC Bank in Washington, Pennello demanded money from a teller while gesturing toward what appeared to be a firearm concealed on his person.
On March 12, 2011, Pennello walked into a police station and turned himself in to law enforcement officials. The defendant has been in state custody since that time, until his transfer to federal custody today.
If convicted, Pennello faces a maximum potential penalty of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine on each bank robbery count.
U.S. Attorney Fishman credited special agents of the FBI, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Michael B. Ward in Newark; along with the Warren County Prosecutor’s Office, Bergen County Sheriff’s Office, Washington Township Police Department, Hackettstown Police Department, Hasbrouck Heights Police Department, Rutherford Police Department, Hackensack Police Department, and Scotch Plains Police Department for the work leading to the identification and apprehension of the defendant.
The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Ronnell L. Wilson of the U.S. Attorney’s Office Criminal Division in Newark.
The charges and allegations contained in the Complaint are merely accusations and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.
Citizens with information regarding these or any unsolved bank robberies are encouraged to call the FBI at 973-792-3000.
Defense counsel: John Yauch, Esq., Federal Public Defender, Newark