EXCLUSIVE REPORT: FBI agents captured a man wanted for robbing seven banks across four counties by tracing the getaway car from a holdup two days ago to his girlfriend – a now-former Saddle Brook “special” police officer, CLIFFVIEW PILOT has learned.
Authorities reviewing surveillance video spotted Jennifer Pinto’s Chevy Equinox leaving the Lusitania Savings Bank in Hillside moments after it was held up on Wednesday, a federal complaint says. Government agents then tracked it to her parents’ house in the township, a law enforcement source told CLIFFVIEW PILOT.
“The FBI was tailing her when she pulled up to the house,” the source said. “Then they got out and detained her.”
The agents reported finding a black toy gun and shirts that appear to match those that they said Pinto’s 32-year-old boyfriend, Andrew Thomas, was seen wearing in bank surveillance images.
Pinto, who has an 8-month-old child with Thomas, was brought in for questioning, according to an FBI complaint on file in U.S. District Court in Newark.
She, in turn, fingered Thomas for seven holdups and one botched attempt over the past 10 months, while confessing to driving the getaway car in two of them, federal authorities said. Thomas surrendered later that day and confessed, as well, they said.
FBI agents charged him with eight counts of bank robbery and Pinto with two counts of conspiracy for being his alleged wheelwoman. Thomas remained held without bail following an initial appearance in federal court in Newark. Pinto, who the FBI said had been living with him in Newark, was released on a $100,000 bond.
Local police told CLIFFVIEW PILOT that they couldn’t address any aspect of what is a federal investigation. They confirmed, however, that Pinto – who grew up in town and was graduated from Saddle Brook High School — has resigned her position as a special officer after three years.
Federal authorities said Thomas pulled in nearly $50,000 during the holdup spree. He often wore the same clothes and used the same method, walking briskly to the bank counter, demanding money, and then marching out with the cash, their complaint says.
“Give me all your large!” the robber shouted in one holdup, according to the FBI complaint. “Fill it up!” he yelled in another.
All but once, he pointed what appeared to be a black handgun, U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman said yesterday.
Federal agents were certain that they were pursuing a serial bandit: Surveillance images from various holdups clearly show his face. Last month, the FBI released some of those photos in an attempt to identify him.
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