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GOTCHA! FBI Nabs Two In Passaic, Little Falls Bank Robberies

The FBI nabbed two men who robbed banks in Passaic and Little Falls last month, federal authorities said Wednesday.

Nicholas Ortiz, 37, of Paterson, and Jose Soto, 49, of Passaic, remained in federal custody and had closed-circuit appearances scheduled Wednesday afternoon with a U.S. District Court judge in Newark, U.S. Attorney Craig Carpenito said.

Both are charged with holding up a Valley National Bank in Little Falls on Feb. 27.

Soto also is charged with robbing a PNC branch in Passaic on Feb. 6 — although authorities believe Ortiz participated.

One of them pointed a silver and black gun at customers and employees at the Little Falls bank on Main Street, Carpenito said.

The other then “jumped over a teller counter and began rifling through various drawers,” he said.

The robbers then forced the bank employees at gunpoint to open the vault before grabbing cash and fleeing, Carpenito said.

Investigators identified Ortiz as the owner of the getaway car from that robbery, the U.S. attorney said, adding that they placed both mens’ cellphones in the vicinity.

Three weeks earlier, he said, two robbers wearing ski masks and holding umbrellas entered the PNC Bank at the corner of Broadway and Van Houten Avenue in Passaic and ordered everyone to get down on the floor, Carpenito said.

One pointed a silver and black handgun customers and employees, while the other jumped the counter and demanded that the teller turn over all cash in the drawers, he said.

Investigators identified Soto as the owner of the getaway car from that robbery, the U.S. attorney said. They also placed his phone in the area, he said.

Carpenito credited special agents of the FBI, as well as police from Passaic and Little Falls, the Passaic County Prosecutor’s Office, the Passaic County Sheriff’s Department, and the Paterson Police Department.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Emma Spiro is handling the case for the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Newark.

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