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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
District of New Jersey

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, March 18, 2020

Two Passaic County Men Charged with Conspiracy and Bank Robbery

NEWARK, N.J. – Two Passaic County men are scheduled to appear today in connection with the robbery of the Valley National Bank in Little Falls, New Jersey, on Feb. 27, 2020, U.S. Attorney Craig Carpenito announced.

Nicholas Ortiz, 37, of Paterson, New Jersey, and Jose Soto, 49, of Passaic, New Jersey, are each charged by complaint with one count of bank robbery and one count of conspiracy to commit bank robbery. Soto is also charged with an additional count of bank robbery in connection with the robbery of a PNC Bank branch in Passaic on Feb. 6, 2020. Both defendants were arrested today and are scheduled to have their initial appearances this afternoon with U.S. Magistrate Judge Cathy Waldor in Newark federal court by telephonic conference.

According to documents filed in this case and statements made in court:

On Feb. 6, 2020, two suspects wearing ski masks and holding umbrellas entered the PNC Bank in Passaic, New Jersey, and allegedly began ordering everyone to get down on the floor. One of the suspects pointed a silver and black handgun customers and employees. The other suspect entered the bank and jumped over the teller counter, demanding that the teller turn over all cash in the drawers.

On Feb. 27, 2020, two suspects allegedly entered the Valley National Bank in Little Falls, New Jersey. One of the suspects pointed a silver and black gun at customers and employees.  The second suspect jumped over a teller counter and began rifling through various drawers. The suspects then forced the bank employees at gunpoint to open the vault, and began retrieving cash from the bank vault. The suspects forced all employees into the bank vault and then fled through the rear door. 

Law enforcement officers were subsequently able to identify Soto as the owner of the getaway car from the PNC Bank robbery. They were also able to place Soto’s phone in the vicinity of the PNC Bank on the day of the robbery. 

Law enforcement were able to identify Ortiz as the owner of the getaway car from the Valley National Bank Robbery. They were also able to place both Soto’s and Ortiz’s phone in the vicinity of the Valley National Bank on the day of the robbery.  

Each bank robbery charge carries a maximum potential penalty of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine, or twice the gross gain or loss from the offense. The conspiracy charge carries a maximum potential penalty of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine, or twice the gross gain or loss from the offense.

U.S. Attorney Carpenito credited special agents of the FBI, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Gregory W. Ehrie in Newark; the Passaic Police Department, under the direction of Chief Luis A. Guzman; the Little Falls Police Department, under the direction of Chief Steven Post; the Passaic County Prosecutor’s Office, under the direction of Prosecutor Camelia M. Valdes; the Passaic County Sheriff’s Department, under the direction of Sheriff Richard Berdnik; and the Paterson Police Department, under the direction of Police Director Jerry Speziale, with the investigation leading to today’s charges.

The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Emma Spiro of the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Newark.

The charge and allegations in the complaint are merely accusations, and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

Topic(s): 
Violent Crime
Component(s): 
Press Release Number: 
20-104
Updated March 18, 2020