NEWARK, NJ – An Oradell, NJ man who had been accused of robbing four banks, a liquor store and the Raceway gas station in Pine Brook pleaded guilty to all six counts of robbery charged against him in federal court on July 25, according to U.S. Attorney Craig Carpenito.
Joel Robbins, 47, admitted to robbing the Chase Bank in Whippany on June 6 of last year, Santander Bank in Parsippany in July, The Liquor Factory in Hopatcong and Chase bank in Edgewater in October, and TD Bank in Mahwah in December, as well as the Raceway gas station on Route 46 west in Pine Brook on November 26, according to documents filed in the case and statements made in court.
In the Raceway robbery, according to Montville Township Police Chief Rudy Appelmann, Robbins entered the station just before 10:30 p.m., pointed a handgun at the clerk, and demanded money, which the clerk gave him. Robbins left the store, getting into a vehicle in the area of Chapin Road, according to Appelmann.
The court documents list Robbins’ total take from the banks at just under $50,000, although they do not list the amounts stolen from the liquor store or the Pine Brook Raceway.
Robbins was apprehended after the TD Bank robbery in December when he crashed his getaway vehicle.
According to court documents, Robbins walked into the bank wearing gray pants, a black jacket, sunglasses, a dark skull cap and light-colored latex gloves, and pulled a bandana over his face as he entered the bank. His accomplice, Wanda Soel, 52, of Hasbrouck Heights, NJ, allegedly waited for Robbins in a Toyota Corolla parked outside the bank.
Robbins pulled a black handgun, which was later determined to be fake, from his waistband, and pointed it at two tellers, 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, according to court documents.
Robbins got into the passenger seat of the Corolla and Soel allegedly drove them away. Nearby law enforcement officers, who had received a report of the bank robbery while it was in progress, pursued the Corolla. Soel allegedly 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 vehicle, she tripped and fell, and Robbins drove away without her. Law enforcement officers arrested Soel in the hotel parking lot. Her bank robbery charges are pending, according to Carpenito.
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 vehicle and arrested Robbins. They recovered U.S. currency sticking out of Robbins’s pants and other cash bills strewn inside the vehicle, along with a fake black handgun. Officers also recovered sunglasses, a bandana, a dark knit cap, and latex gloves from the vehicle, resembling the items Robbins was seen wearing when he robbed the bank. Robbins was wearing a black jacket when he was arrested.
The counts of robbery with which Robbins is charged each carry a maximum punishment of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine, according to Carpenito. The charges and allegations against Soel are merely accusations, and she is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.
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