North Jersey man indicted in string of bank robberies

METUCHEN — A federal grand jury indicted an Elizabeth man Aug. 16 in connection with an armed bank-robbery spree that included one in the borough, according to U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman.

Claude Williams, 61, was charged with six bank robberies and two counts of using a firearm in furtherance of a crime of violence when he was arrested in July 2012.

The new indictment adds multiple counts, and Williams now faces one count of conspiracy to commit bank robbery, seven counts of bank robbery, one count of attempted bank robbery and eight firearms counts in connection with the alleged robbery spree. A date had not been set for Williams to be arraigned on the indictment.

Between Sept. 26, 2011, and July 30, 2012, Williams allegedly committed seven armed bank robberies and attempted to rob an eighth bank, according to authorities.

He allegedly used a similar procedure for each robbery. After entering the bank armed with a handgun and wearing a bandana, hooded sweatshirt or jacket, along with white gloves, Williams would vault over the counter and demand money from bank tellers at gunpoint, according to police.

Williams allegedly robbed or attempted to rob the following banks:

 Sept. 26, 2011: Financial Resources Federal Credit Union, Somerset

 Nov. 21, 2011: Somerset Savings Bank, Somerville

 Feb. 27, 2012: Provident Bank, Piscataway

 April 17, 2012: Provident Bank, Clifton

 May 22, 2012: Provident Bank, Piscataway

 June 20, 2012: Fulton Bank, Metuchen

 July 12, 2012: Unity Bank, Middlesex

 July 30, 2012: Unity Bank, North Plainfield

According to police, in several of the bank robberies, Williams sent a conspirator into the bank to case it shortly before he entered to commit the robbery, police said.

Prior to the July 12, 2012, robbery, an unarmed, off-duty police officer was parked across from the Unity Bank. The officer watched Williams leave the bank, get into the rear of the getaway car, and crouch down to hide, authorities said. After noting the license plate number, the officer followed the car. After an unsuccessful attempt to elude the officer, the getaway car stopped. Williams allegedly got out of the car and pointed his gun at the officer, forcing the officer to leave the scene without apprehending Williams and his accomplice.

Later, on July 27, 2012, and July 28, 2012, police saw Williams driving in the vicinity of a Unity Bank location in Somerset. On July 30, 2012, police again observed Williams and accomplice Andrea Dorsey — who has since pleaded guilty to her involvement in some of the robberies — in the vicinity of the bank, authorities said.

Police stopped the car blocks from the bank and arrested Williams and Dorsey, allegedly finding a handgun and white gloves inside the car.

Each of the bank robbery charges carries a maximum potential penalty of 25 years in prison. The attempted bank robbery charge carries a maximum potential penalty of 20 years in prison. The first of the eight counts of using a firearm in furtherance of a crime of violence carries a mandatory minimum penalty of seven years and a maximum of life in prison; each additional count carries a mandatory minimum penalty of 25 years and a maximum of life in prison.