NYC officer charged in bank heist


By Maryclaire Dale
The Associated Press

PHILADELPHIA — A New York City transit officer made off with $113,000 in an armed bank heist Thursday but was arrested a few blocks away, police in northeast Pennsylvania said.

Rookie officer Christian Torres, 21, had his New York Police Department badge and identification card on him when he was arrested, Muhlenberg Township police said. A bag of cash was found on the front seat, they said.

Torres was off work Thursday and used a personal handgun in the crime, according to police in the township, which is about 120 miles from New York City.

Torres confronted a Sovereign Bank employee as she opened up the branch at about 8 a.m., the FBI said.

He forced bank employees to take him to the vault, then stuffed large bills - 100s, 50s and 20s - in a white shopping bag and fled in a car, officials said.

Torres was pulled over after bank employees pointed out his vehicle to police responding to a silent alarm. He had a gun in his waistband when he was arrested.

Torres, who lives in Jamaica, N.Y., was charged with robbery, assault, a weapons count and other charges and sent to the Berks County Prison, with bail set at $500,000 bail.

"He was not any different from anyone else I arraign. He was respectful, though," District Justice Dean R. Patton said.

Torres invoked his Fifth Amendment right and did not give a statement to police, according to Officer Joel Marino, a Muhlenberg Township police spokesman.

"He wasn't talking," Marino said.

A defense lawyer contacted police on Torres' behalf, but the lawyer's name was not immediately available, he said.

Torres joined the transit division in January after starting at the police academy in July, the New York Police Department confirmed. Department officials otherwise declined comment.

Township police did not know of any connections the suspect had to the area, and said he had stayed at a nearby motel.

No one was injured in the robbery.

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