More than $63,000 taken from eight banks, including $14,000 from First Union In Hopewell Township
By: John Tredrea
The New York City man arrested June 30 after fleeing the First Union Bank on Washington Crossing Road in Hopewell Township carrying a bag of money has admitted holding up seven other area banks since June 7, said the federal prosecutor handling the case.
"In U.S. District Court in Trenton Wednesday, I indicated to Judge Freda Wolfson that, after his arrest, Timothy Johnston admitted to police officers that he had committed seven other bank robberies in addition to the First Union robbery," Assistant U.S. Attorney Robert Farkas said Friday.
Mr. Farkas said a total of more than $63,000 was taken from the eight banks, including $14,000 from First Union.
All the First Union money was recovered when Mr. Johnston was arrested at the Pennington Circle after fleeing the bank on foot. An FBI agent was waiting for Mr. Johnston as he came out the front door of the bank at 9:30 a.m. with a plastic bag full of money. The agent had followed Mr. Johnston to the bank as part of an ongoing investigation of the string of bank heists in the Delaware Valley area.
The agent ordered Mr. Johnston to halt, but the suspect fled on foot. The agent, along with officers from the Mercer County Prosecutor’s Office and Hopewell Township Detective Michael Simonelli, chased Mr. Johnston and caught up with him about 150 yards east of the bank, in front of a Mobil service station on the eastern side of the Pennington Circle. Mr. Johnston threw the stolen money into the air just before he was captured, police say. All the cash was picked up from the roadway by authorities.
Mr. Farkas said Mr. Johnston, 23, and his alleged getaway driver, Annie Ford, 31, of Trenton, are being held without bail, in federal custody in a Monmouth County jail. He said the pair have been formally charged thus far with holding up the First Union branch in Hopewell Township.
"If convicted, they could receive up to 20 years in prison and fines up to $250,000," he said.
Mr. Farkas said the investigation of the case is continuing, with additional charges pertaining to the other robberies expected to be filed soon. The FBI continues to seek a man who may have helped Johnston hold up several of the banks.
"For Mr. Johnston and Ms. Ford, the next step in the legal process is grand jury action," Mr. Farkas said. "Right now, I don’t have a time frame of when that will begin."
Ms. Ford was arrested moments after Mr. Johnston, while she was sitting in a car parked in the lot of a shopping area near the bank, Mr. Farkas said.
Mr. Farkas said Mr. Johnston has admitted to a rash of bank robberies that began June 7 at the State Credit Union on Lafayette Street in Trenton. Subsequently robbed were banks in Hamilton, Ewing, Hopewell and Lawrence townships in Mercer County; Burlington City in Burlington County; and Morrisville and Middletown Township in Bucks County, PA.
Mr. Farkas said Ms. Ford has admitted driving Mr. Johnston to the State Credit Union in Trenton and First Union in Hopewell. However, he said she maintains that she thought Mr. Johnston was only going to try to pass bad checks in the banks, not rob them.
"In ordering that Ms. Ford be held without bail, Judge Wolfson cited that Ms. Ford has at least 26 previous arrests resulting in at least three felony convictions, on bad check charges," Mr. Farkas said.