Two women appeared in federal court today to face allegations that they robbed a Spencer Savings Bank in Garfield at gunpoint, Acting U.S. Attorney William E. Fitzpatrick announced.
Swahilys Pedraza-Rodriguez, 19, of New Haven, Connecticut, and Melisa Aquino Arias, 23, of Passaic, are charged by complaint with one count of bank robbery.
Both defendants made their initial appearances this afternoon before U.S. Magistrate Judge Joseph A. Dickson in Newark federal court and were detained.
According to the complaint:
On Sept. 27, 2017, Pedraza-Rodriguez and Arias allegedly entered a Spencer Savings Bank in Garfield and asked a bank teller for information about opening a bank account. Soon after, Arias, who was wearing a blue hijab, took out a black handgun and demanded money, while Pedraza-Rodriguez stood guard by the bank manager.
After a bank teller handed them some cash, the defendants left the bank, and employees immediately alerted the police. Law enforcement officers responded to the scene, but did not immediately locate the robbers.
However on Oct 15th, Pedraza-Rodriguez and Arias allegedly entered an NVE Bank in Teaneck. Arias wore an orange hijab and Pedraza-Rodriguez wore a black head covering when they approached a bank employee and requested information about opening a bank account.
The employee recognized the women as the alleged perpetrators of the Garfield bank robbery. As the employee went to alert the police, the women left the bank.
Law enforcement officers apprehended Pedraza-Rodriguez and Arias soon after.
The bank robbery count carries a maximum potential penalty of up to 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine, or twice the gross gain or loss from the offense.
The charge and allegations contained in the complaint are merely accusations, and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.