Manhattan U.S. Attorney Announces Charges Against Hudson County Corrections Officer And Other Alleged Members Of An Armed Robbery Crew That Impersonated Police Officers
20 Defendants Have Now Been Charged, 16 Have Pled Guilty
Preet Bharara, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, Brian R. Crowell, the Special-Agent-in-Charge of the New York Field Division of the Drug Enforcement Administration (“DEA”), Aaron Ford, the Special-Agent-in-Charge of the Newark Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (“FBI”), Raymond W. Kelly, the Commissioner of the New York City Police Department (“NYPD”), Joseph A. D’Amico, the Superintendent of the New York State Police (“NYSP”), and Gaetano T. Gregory, the Acting Prosecutor of Hudson County, today announced the filing of a Superseding Indictment (the “S2 Indictment”)in Manhattan federal court charging BENNY LISOJO and WILFREDO SUAREZ, two additional alleged members of an armed robbery crew who impersonated police officers, with robbery conspiracy and firearms offenses. LISOJO is a Hudson County Corrections Officer. A third defendant named in the S2 Indictment, ANTHONY SERRANO, was arrested on August 1, 2013. LISOJO and SUAREZ were taken into custody today and will be presented this afternoon before Magistrate Judge Debra Freeman.
Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said: “As alleged, these defendants committed armed robberies while pretending to be police officers. In doing so, as charged, the defendants – one of whom sadly was a law enforcement officer -- both endangered the public and added to the workload of the real police. This Office and our partners will continue our efforts to pursue and prosecute those who perpetrate alleged violent crime.”
DEA Special-Agent-in-Charge Brian R. Crowell said: “This nine month investigation has culminated in the announcement of three additional arrests of a home invasion crew that posed as police officers, carrying loaded weapons and committing robberies in New York and New Jersey. One crew member did not have to pretend he was a police officer – because Benny Lisojo was a Hudson County Corrections Officer while committing these alleged crimes. Law enforcement efforts on all levels, have successfully identified, investigated and arrested twenty members of this brutal crew to rid the streets of this public menace.”
FBI Special-Agent-in-Charge Aaron Ford said: “These alleged actions are an erosion of the public's ability to trust the law enforcement personnel who have taken oath to protect against such egregious, criminal activity. The FBI will continue to support this ongoing investigation, so the members of the public can continue to trust in the vast majority of law enforcement officials who respect their oath and are committed to public service.”
NYPD Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly said: “These brazen criminals were allegedly responsible for multiple violent crimes including car jackings and robberies at gunpoint. I commend the members of the New York Drug Enforcement Task Force, including NYPD detectives, and the prosecutors in the U.S. Attorney's office for their work in bringing to justice these violent robbers who even posed as law enforcement in the commission of their crimes.”
NYSP Superintendent Joseph A. D’Amico said: “Once again the hard work of law enforcement partners working together has resulted in getting allegedly dangerous individuals off of our streets. Not only did these suspects allegedly commit these violent acts, but they posed as law enforcement, making traffic stops to pull off their robberies. The alleged actions of these crews will never be tolerated, especially those impersonating officers. I commend and thank the U.S. Attorney's Office, the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the New York City Police Department and Hudson County Prosecutor's Office for their continued partnerships.”
According to the allegations contained in the Superseding Indictment unsealed today:
On October 14, 2012, SERRANO and other co-conspirators, while pretending to be police officers, stopped two victims who were traveling in a vehicle in New York, New York, and robbed the victims at gunpoint.
On November 22, 2012, LISOJO and SUAREZ and other co-conspirators, while pretending to be police officers, stopped five victims who were traveling in a vehicle in New Jersey after departing from New York, New York, restrained four of the victims, and robbed them at gunpoint.
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SERRANO, 39, of Jersey City, New Jersey, LISOJO, 31, of Newark, New Jersey, and SUAREZ, 31, of Jersey City, New Jersey, are each charged with one count of robbery conspiracy, and one count of brandishing a firearm in connection with a robbery conspiracy. They each face up to 20 years in prison on the robbery charge and life in prison on the firearms charge.
The arrests and charges are part of an ongoing investigation of an armed robbery crew that impersonated police officers and targeted individuals believed to be engaged in narcotics trafficking and/or engaged in businesses that affected interstate and international commerce. Seventeen other members of the same robbery crew were arrested in January 2013, in possession of, among other things: six loaded guns, shirts bearing the word “Police,” a hydraulic ram similar to those used by law enforcement to break down doors, handcuffs, walkie talkies, a purported law enforcement shield, a baseball bat, ski masks, and GPS units similar to those used by law enforcement to track suspects. Sixteen of these 17 defendants have pleaded guilty.
Mr. Bharara praised the DEA, the FBI, the NYPD, the NYSP, and the Hudson County Prosecutor’s Office for their work in the investigation.
The case is being prosecuted by the Office’s Narcotics Unit. Assistant United States Attorneys Rachel Maimin and Rahul Mukhi are in charge of the prosecution.
The charges contained in the S2 Indictment are merely accusations, and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.