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Press Release

Passaic County Man Sentenced to 23 Years in Prison for Conspiracy and Two Armed Bank Robberies

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

NEWARK, N.J. – A Passaic County, New Jersey, man was sentenced to 276 months in prison for his role as the gunman in two armed bank robberies, U.S. Attorney Philip R. Sellinger announced today.

Jose Soto, 53, of Passaic, New Jersey, was previously convicted of two bank robberies, conspiracy to commit bank robbery, and brandishing a firearm during those robberies following a six-day jury trial before U.S. District Judge William J. Martini, who imposed the sentence on April 27, 2023, in Newark federal court.

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

On Feb. 6, 2020, Soto and his conspirator, while wearing face coverings and holding umbrellas, entered the PNC Bank in Passaic. Soto pointed a silver and black handgun at customers and employees and began ordering everyone down on the floor. His conspirator entered the bank and jumped over the teller counter, demanding that the teller turn over all cash in the drawers. Soto and his conspirator took approximately $35,000 from the PNC Bank.

On Feb. 27, 2020, Soto and the same conspirator entered the Valley Bank in Little Falls, New Jersey. Soto again pointed a silver and black gun at customers and employees and his conspirator jumped over the teller counter and began rifling through various drawers. Soto and his conspirator, at gunpoint, forced the bank employees to open the vault, and began retrieving cash from the bank vault. They then forced all employees and customers into the bank vault and fled through the rear door of the Valley Bank. Soto and his conspirator took approximately $45,000 from the Valley Bank.

In addition to the prison term, Judge Martini sentenced Soto to three years of supervised release.

U.S. Attorney Sellinger credited the FBI Newark Violent Incident Crimes Task Force, Garrett Mountain Resident Agency, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge James E. Dennehy in Newark; the Passaic Police Department, under the direction of Chief Luis A. Guzman; the Passaic County Sheriff’s Department, under the direction of Sheriff Richard H. Berdnik; the Little Falls Police Department, under the direction of Chief Robert A. Thomas III; and the Paterson Police Department, under the direction of Interim Officer in Charge, Maj. Frederick P. Fife, with the investigation leading to the sentencing.

The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Emma Spiro and Mark J. Pesce of the Criminal Division in Newark.

Updated April 28, 2023

Violent Crime
Press Release Number: 23-116