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Press Release

Bergen County, New Jersey, Man Admits Role In Multiple Bank Robberies And Robberies Of Liquor Store And Gas Station

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, District of New Jersey

NEWARK, N.J. – An Oradell, New Jersey, man today admitted robbing four banks, a liquor store, and a gas station between June 2017 and December 2017, U.S. Attorney Craig Carpenito announced.

Joel Robbins, 47, 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 following locations on the dates set forth below:




Chase Bank


June 6, 2017

Santander Bank


July 20, 2017

The Liquor Factory


October 15, 2017

Chase Bank


October 25, 2017

Raceway Gas Station


November 26, 2017

TD Bank


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.

U.S. Attorney Carpenito credited special agents of the FBI, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Gregory W. Ehrie, with the investigation leading to the charge. He also thanked the Mahwah Township Police Department for its contribution to the case, as well as the police departments of Hanover Township, Parsippany, Hopatcong, Edgewater and Montville.

The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Jason S. Gould of the Criminal Division of the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Newark.

The charges and allegations against Soel are merely accusations, and she is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

Defense counsel: Perry Primavera Esq., Hackensack, New Jersey

Updated July 25, 2018

Press Release Number: 18-256