NEWARK, N.J. – Two Bergen County residents were charged today for their alleged roles in a Bergen County bank robbery, Acting U.S. Attorney William E. Fitzpatrick announced.
Joel Robbins, 47, of Oradell, and Wanda Soel, 52, of Hasbrouck Heights were arrested Dec. 3, 2017, and are scheduled to make their initial appearances today before U.S. Magistrate Judge Joseph A. Dickson in Newark federal court. They are each charged by complaint with one count of bank robbery.
According to documents filed in this case and statements made in court:
On Dec. 3, 2017, Robbins allegedly robbed the TD Bank in Mahwah, New Jersey. According to video surveillance and witness reports, 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. Soel 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, who said Robbins 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 allegedly got into the passenger seat of the Corolla and Soel drove away. Nearby law enforcement officers, who had received a report of the bank robbery while it was in progress, pursued the Corolla. Soel 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.
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 count of bank robbery with which Robbins and Soel are charged carries a maximum punishment of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
Acting U.S. Attorney Fitzpatrick credited special agents of the FBI, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Timothy Gallagher, with the investigation leading to the charge. He also thanked the Mahwah Township Police Department for its contribution to the case.
The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Jason S. Gould of the U.S. Attorney’s Office General Crimes Unit in Newark.