Elizabeth Man Indicted in String of Gunpoint Robberies of New Jersey Banks
|U.S. Attorney’s Office August 16, 2013|
NEWARK, NJ—A federal grand jury today returned an indictment charging an Elizabeth, New Jersey man with a series of gunpoint bank robberies throughout New Jersey, U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman announced.
Claude Williams, 61, was charged with six bank robberies and two counts of using a firearm in furtherance of a crime of violence when he was arrested in July 2012. Today’s indictment adds multiple counts, and Williams now faces one count of conspiracy to commit bank robbery, seven counts of bank robbery, one count of attempted bank robbery, and eight firearms counts in connection with the alleged robbery spree. Williams will be arraigned on the indictment on a date to be determined.
According to documents filed in this case and statements made in court:
Between September 26, 2011 and July 30, 2012, Williams committed seven armed bank robberies and attempted to rob an eighth bank. 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 robbed, or attempted to rob, the following banks:
|September 26, 2011||Financial Resources Federal Credit Union||Somerset, New Jersey|
|November 21, 2011||Somerset Savings Bank||Somerville, New Jersey|
|February 27, 2012||Provident Bank||Piscataway, New Jersey|
|April 17, 2012||Provident Bank||Clifton, New Jersey|
|May 22, 2012||Provident Bank||Piscataway, New Jersey|
|June 20, 2012||Fulton Bank||Metuchen, New Jersey|
|July 12, 2012||Unity Bank||Middlesex, New Jersey|
|July 30, 2012||Unity Bank||North Plainfield, New Jersey|
In several of the bank robberies, Williams sent a conspirator into the bank to case it shortly before he entered to commit the robbery.
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.
After an unsuccessful attempt to elude the officer, the getaway car stopped. Williams got out of the car and pointed his gun at the officer, forcing the officer to leave the scene without apprehending Williams and his accomplice.
Later, on Friday, July 27, 2012 and Saturday, July 28, 2012, law enforcement observed Williams driving in the vicinity of a Unity Bank in Somerset, New Jersey. On July 30, 2012, law enforcement again observed Williams and accomplice Andrea Dorsey—who has since pleaded guilty to her involvement in some of the robberies—in the vicinity of the bank. Law enforcement stopped the car blocks from the bank and arrested Williams and Dorsey, finding a handgun and white gloves inside the car.
Each of the bank robbery charges carries a maximum potential penalty of 25 years in prison. The attempted bank robbery charge carries a maximum potential penalty of 20 years in prison. The first of the eight counts of using a firearm in furtherance of a crime of violence carries a mandatory minimum penalty of seven years and a maximum of life in prison; each additional count carries a mandatory minimum penalty of 25 years and a maximum of life in prison. Each charge also carries a maximum $250,000 fine.
U.S. Attorney Fishman praised special agents of the FBI, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Aaron T. Ford, with the investigation. He also thanked the Somerset County Prosecutors Office and the Middlesex Borough, Piscataway, Clifton, Metuchen, North Plainfield, and Plainfield Police Departments for their excellent work.
The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Osmar J. Benvenuto of the U.S. Attorney’s Office Criminal Division in Newark.
The charges and allegations contained in the indictment are merely accusations, and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.