A Passaic County man was convicted today by a federal jury for his role as the gunman in two armed bank robberies, according to federal officials.
Officials say, Jose Soto, 52, of Passaic, was convicted of two bank robberies, conspiracy to commit bank robbery, and brandishing a firearm during those robberies following a six-day jury trial.
According to documents in this case and the evidence at trial:
On Feb. 6, 2020, Soto and his conspirator, wearing face coverings and holding umbrellas, entered the PNC Bank in Passaic.
Officials say, Soto pointed a silver and black handgun at customers and employees and began ordering everyone down on the floor.
His conspirator entered the bank and jumped over the teller counter, demanding that the teller turn over all cash in the drawers.
Soto and his conspirator took approximately $35,000 from the PNC Bank.
According to officials, on Feb. 27, 2020, Soto and the same conspirator entered the Valley Bank in Little Falls.
Soto again pointed a silver and black gun at customers and employees, and his conspirator jumped over the teller counter and began rifling through various drawers.
Officials said, Soto and his conspirator, at gunpoint, forced the bank employees to open the vault and began retrieving cash from the bank vault.
They then forced all employees and customers into the bank vault and fled through the rear door of the Valley Bank.
Soto and his conspirator took approximately $45,000 from the Valley Bank.
According to federal officials, for each bank robbery charge, Soto faces a maximum potential penalty of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine, or twice the gross gain or loss from the offense, whichever is greatest.
For the conspiracy charge, Soto faces a maximum potential penalty of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine, or twice the gross gain or loss from the offense, whichever is greatest.
Officials say, for each count of brandishing a firearm in furtherance of a bank robbery, Soto faces a mandatory minimum of seven years in prison, a maximum potential penalty of life imprisonment, and a $250,000 fine, or twice the gross gain or loss from the offense, whichever is greatest.
Soto’s sentencing is scheduled for Feb. 23, 2023.