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Justice News

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

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Tuesday, October 13, 2020

Two Passaic County Men Indicted for Committing Multiple Armed Bank Robberies

NEWARK, N.J. – A federal grand jury today indicted two men for their roles in two armed bank robberies in Passaic and Little Falls, New Jersey, respectively, U.S. Attorney Craig Carpenito announced today. 

Nicholas Ortiz, 37, of Paterson, New Jersey, and Jose Soto, 49, of Passaic, New Jersey, are each charged with two counts of bank robbery, conspiracy to commit bank robbery, and brandishing firearms in furtherance of the bank robberies. They will be arraigned at a date to be determined. 

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

On Feb. 6, 2020, Ortiz and Soto, while wearing ski masks and holding umbrellas, entered the PNC Bank in Passaic and ordered everyone to get down on the floor. One of the men entered the bank brandishing a silver and black handgun. The other man entered the bank and jumped over the teller counter, demanding that the teller turn over all cash in the drawers.

On Feb. 27, 2020, Ortiz and Soto entered the Valley National Bank in Little Falls, New Jersey. One of the men entered brandishing a silver and black gun. The other man jumped over a teller counter, and began rifling through various drawers. Ortiz and Soto forced the bank employees, at gunpoint, to open the vault, and began retrieving cash from the bank vault. They forced all employees into the bank vault and then fled through the rear door of the National Valley Bank. 

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. Each count of brandishing a firearm in furtherance of a bank robbery carries a mandatory minimum of seven 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 George M. Crouch Jr. in Newark; the Passaic Police Department, under the direction of Chief Luis A. Guzman; and the Little Falls Police Department, under the direction of Chief Ronald Petrie, with the investigation leading to the 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: 
20-354
Updated October 13, 2020