Defendant Was the Gunman for a Crew That Robbed Four Banks in Queens and Nassau Counties
Central Islip, N.Y. – Earlier today at the federal courthouse in Central Islip, United States District Judge Joanna Seybert sentenced Pedro Benitez to 130 months’ imprisonment for his role in the September 20, 2017 gunpoint robbery of the Queens County Savings Bank in Fresh Meadows, Queens. Benitez had previously pleaded guilty on March 20, 2018 to armed bank robbery and brandishing a firearm in furtherance of a crime of violence. The sentence also included a term of three years of supervised release and $71,395 in restitution.
Richard P. Donoghue, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, William F. Sweeney, Jr., Assistant Director-in-Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation, New York Field Office (FBI) and Patrick J. Ryder, Commissioner, Nassau County Police Department (NCPD), announced the sentence.
On September 20, 2017, Benitez entered the Queens County Savings Bank, ordered customers and employees of the bank to the floor at gunpoint and gained access to the area behind the tellers’ counter. Once in the tellers’ area, Benitez stole over $50,000 in cash that had been delivered to the bank earlier in the day and was laid out on a table in a room adjacent to the teller’s area.
At his guilty plea, Benitez admitted that he had also participated in three additional robberies in Nassau County during the summer of 2017. In each of those robberies, Benitez was the gunman who entered the banks and robbed the employees of the banks’ cash. In total, Benitez and the crew stole over $70,000 from four banks between July and September of 2017.
“Pedro Benitez thought committing armed bank robberies was a good way to get money, but he learned that it is just a good way to end up in prison,” stated United States Attorney Donoghue. “The cooperative efforts of federal and local law enforcement agencies brought this crew to justice and prevented them from endangering other bank employees, customers, law enforcement officers and innocent bystanders.”
“The value of a dollar was worth more to Benitez than the value of someone’s safety. For the sake of quick and easy cash, Benitez placed bank customers and employees in grave danger, displaying a gun at each robbery,” stated FBI Assistant Director-in-Charge Sweeney. “After stealing over $70,000 with his crew, Benitez may have believed his actions proved him successful, but his prison sentence clearly proves otherwise. The FBI New York Joint Violent Crimes Task Force will rigorously investigate bank robberies, ensuring these robbers reap what they sow.”
“The arrest and conviction of defendant Pedro Benitez is a classic example of the effective cooperation and information sharing between numerous law enforcement agencies,” stated NCPD Commissioner Ryder. “Through our diligence, we have taken a violent felon off the streets, thus making our communities safer. Defendant Benitez showed no regard for the safety of our residents and will now spend many years behind bars.”
Two other members of the bank robbery crew previously pled guilty and are awaiting sentence. Two additional members of the robbery crew are awaiting trial.
The government’s case is being handled by the Office’s Long Island Criminal Division. Assistant United States Attorney Michael Maffei is in charge of the prosecution.
Far Rockaway, New York
E.D.N.Y. Docket No. 17-CR-572 (JS)
SOURCE: news provided by JUSTICE.GOV on Friday, August 10, 2018.