A 29-year-old Airmont man captured by a team of law enforcement agents on Tuesday robbed four banks in Rockland, Dutchess and Bergen counties of $233,000 in all, often by claiming to have a bomb and once by pointing what appeared to be a weapon, authorities said.
Yosef Ziegler was taken into custody in Airmont early Tuesday by a team of federal agents and law enforcement officersfrom the jurisdictions where the banks were robbed -- among them, investigators from the FBI and Bergen County Prosecutor's Office.
Ziegler held up the four banks in the two states over a 10-month period beginning in late January, Geoffrey S. Berman, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, said early Tuesday evening.
The largest haul, $105,000 was from a bank in Fishkill, NY, the U.S. attorney said.
Federal authorities accused Ziegler of:
- taking $76,000 in cash from a Chase branch in the Pacesetter Park Shopping Center on Route 202 in Pomona on Jan. 24 by "announcing that he had a bomb, displaying a cylindrical device attached to wires, and demanding that employees empty the bank’s vault";
- robbing an Oritani Bank branch on Kinderkamack Road in Park Ridge of $30,150 on April 17 by claiming he had a bomb and directing employees to empty the vault;
- taking $22,500 from the Trustco Bank along Route 9 and Myers Corners Road in Wappingers Falls on June 25 by announcing that he had a bomb, showing "a device in his hand attached to wires that connected to his belt," and ordering employees to empty the vault and teller drawers;
- robbing another Trutsco branch, this one on Route 52 in Fishkill, of $105,000 on Oct. 29 by "wielding what appeared to be a firearm, which he pointed at employees while demanding that they empty the bank’s vault."
Berman said Ziegler committed the "daring broad-daylight bank robberies in quick succession."
His crimes "not only put bank employees, law enforcement, and the public at risk," the U.S. attorney said. "Traumatic events such as this can also cause lasting undue emotional distress on victims and bystanders."
If convicted, Ziegler could face up to 25 years in federal prison, Berman said.In the Park Ridge holdup, Ziegler allegedly wore a bicycle helmet with a baseball cap underneath, a gray sweatshirt, black gloves and glasses. The former Brooklyn resident was also carrying a blue bag that he claimed contained a bomb, authorities said.
In the Jan. 24 Pomona robbery, the robber wore a blue vest with a hood over his head, a partial ski mask, red face paint and dark clothing, according to the FBI.
It was initially unclear whether a $10,000 reward that the bureau offered for information leading to an arrest played a role in Ziegler's capture.
Ziegler was arrested Tuesday morning in Airmont and brought to federal court in White Plains, where U.S. Magistrate Judith C. McCarthy ordered him held without bond.
Berman praised what he called the "outstanding investigative work" of the FBI Westchester County Safe Streets Task Force, FBI Hudson Valley Safe Streets Task Force, FBI Newark Division, Bergen County Prosecutor's Office, Ramapo, Fishkill and New York State police department's nd the Dutchess County District Attorney’s Office. He also thanked the Rockland County District Attorney's Office for its assistance.
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