NEWARK, N.J. – Elizabeth resident Claude Williams, 63, has admitted robbing seven New Jersey banks at gunpoint and attempting to rob an eighth bank at the time of his arrest on July 30, 2012, U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman announced.
Williams pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Kevin McNulty in Newark federal court to Count One, Count Fourteen and Count Fifteen of an indictment charging him with conspiracy to commit bank robbery, bank robbery and using a firearm during a crime of violence.
According to documents filed in this case and statements made in court Williams admitted that, between Sept. 26, 2011 and July 30, 2012, he robbed seven banks and attempted to rob an eighth bank, all at gunpoint. He used a similar procedure for each robbery: after entering the bank armed with a handgun and wearing a bandana, hooded sweatshirt or jacket and white gloves, Williams would vault over the counter and demand money from bank tellers at gunpoint.
Williams admitted robbing, or attempting to rob, the following New Jersey banks: Sept. 26, 2011, Financial Resources Federal Credit Union, Somerset; Nov. 21, 2011, Somerset Savings Bank, Somerville; Feb. 27, 2012, Provident Bank, Piscataway; April 17, 2012, Provident Bank, Clifton; May 22, 2012, Provident Bank, Piscataway; June 20, 2012, Fulton Bank, Metuchen; July 12, 2012, Unity Bank, Middlesex; and July 30, 2012, Unity Bank, North Plainfield.
Prior to the July 12, 2012, robbery, an unarmed, off-duty police officer was parked across from the Unity Bank. The officer observed Williams leave the bank, get into the rear of the getaway car, and crouch down to hide. After noting the license plate number, the officer followed the car. During today’s hearing, Williams admitted that he exited the getaway car, walked toward the officer’s car, and pointed his firearm at the officer, forcing the officer to leave the scene.
On July 30, 2012, Williams was arrested after law enforcement observed him driving in the vicinity of the Unity Bank in North Plainfield on July 27, 2012, and July 28, 2012. He admitted today that he planned to rob the bank at gunpoint.
The conspiracy charge carries a maximum potential penalty of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. The armed bank robbery charge carries a maximum potential penalty of 25 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. The charge of using and brandishing a firearm during a crime of violence carries a mandatory minimum sentence of seven years in prison and a maximum sentence of life in prison. Sentencing is scheduled for Nov. 16, 2015.
Andrea Dorsey, 56, of Plainfield New Jersey, who admitted that she served as a lookout and getaway driver for three of the robberies, was sentenced to 87 months in prison on March 13, 2014.
Teresa Webb, 45, of Plainfield, who admitted that she was the getaway driver for one of the robberies, was sentenced to 54 months in prison on May 30, 2013.
U.S. Attorney Fishman credited special agents of the FBI, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Richard M. Frankel in Newark, with the investigation leading to today’s plea. He also thanked the Somerset County Prosecutor’s Office and the Middlesex Borough, Piscataway, Clifton, Metuchen, North Plainfield and Plainfield Police Departments for their roles. The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Osmar J. Benvenuto and Courtney M. Oliva of the U.S. Attorney’s Office Criminal Division in Newark