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Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Washington, New Jersey Man Pleads Guilty to Robbing Five Banks

TRENTON, NJ—A Washington, N.J., man admitted today to robbing five banks between January 29 and March 10, 2011, U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman announced.

Joseph Pennello, 46, pleaded guilty to an Information charging him with five counts of bank robbery, admitting he robbed banks scattered throughout three New Jersey counties. Pennello entered his guilty plea before U.S. District Judge Joel A. Pisano in Trenton federal court.

According to documents filed in this case and statements made in court:

During his guilty plea, Pennello admitted to robbing the following banks:

Date  Bank  Amount Stolen 
29-Jan-11 PNC Bank; Washington, N.J.  $2,279 
6-Feb-11 TD Bank; Scotch Plains, N.J.  $2,810 
11-Feb-11 PNC Bank; Hackensack, N.J.  $3,335 
18-Feb-11 Chase Bank; Hackettstown, N.J.  $8,531 
10-Mar-11 Wells Fargo Bank; Rutherford, N.J.  $1,099 

Pennello entered the banks and demanded money from the tellers, either verbally or using notes. During the robbery of the TD Bank in Scotch Plains, Pennello’s note demanded all the money in the teller’s drawer. He also passed a note to a teller at the PNC Bank in Hackensack which read, “This is a robbery. No alarms. No dye-packs. No tracers. No one gets hurts [sic].” At the PNC Bank in Washington, Pennello demanded money from a teller while gesturing toward what appeared to be a firearm concealed on his person.

On March 12, 2011, Pennello walked into a police station and turned himself in to law enforcement officials. The defendant has been in custody since that time.

The charges to which Pennello pleaded guilty each carry a maximum potential penalty of 20 years in prison and a fine of $250,000. Sentencing is scheduled for August 4, 2011.

U.S. Attorney Fishman credited special agents of the FBI, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Michael B. Ward in Newark; along with the Warren County Prosecutor’s Office, Bergen County Sheriff’s Office, Washington Township Police Department, Hackettstown Police Department, Hasbrouck Heights Police Department, Rutherford Police Department, Hackensack Police Department and Scotch Plains Police Department for the work leading to the identification and apprehension of the defendant.

The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Ronnell L. Wilson of the U.S. Attorney’s Office Criminal Division in Newark.

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Defense counsel: John Yauch Esq., Assistant Federal Public Defender, Newark, N.J.

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