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Union County Man Pleads Guilty to Conspiracy to Commit Bank Robbery

Jelani Bustamonte, 23, of Elizabeth worked at the Westfield branch of TD Bank.

A Union County, N.J., man employed by the Westfield branch of TD Bank, today admitted his role in a plan to rob the bank where he worked, U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman announced. 

Jelani Bustamonte, 23, of Elizabeth, N.J., pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Joel A. Pisano in Trenton federal court to an Information charging him with two counts of criminal conspiracy.

On Jan. 26, 2012, Bustamonte was arrested at his home and charged by Complaint.

The criminal charges stem from alleged communications with a suspect who is believed to have robbed both the Westfield bank and at least one other branch of TD Bank between September and December of last year.

According to the criminal complaint, Bustamonte exchanged text messages with his co-conspirator during November and December of 2011, in which they discussed a potential robbery of the Westfield bank's vault and an agreement to pay Bustamonte as much as $50,000 of the money stolen from the vault.

Bustamonte made his initial appearance in January before U.S. Magistrate Judge Cathy L. Waldor in federal court in Newark. He was charged in a complaint with conspiring to commit bank robbery, which carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison in addition to a fine of as much as $250,000.

The Westfield branch of TD Bank, located at 560 North Avenue East, was robbed during the afternoon of Sept. 11, 2011. According to initial reports, the robber stole about $5,700 before fleeing in a black sedan (the total amount was later confirmed to be $5,721).

Bustamonte was working at the bank when it was robbed on Sept. 11, according to the complaint. He also told law enforcement that he recognized the bank robber, but did not disclose the robber’s identity to bank personnel or law enforcement. Bustamonte later acknowledged to law enforcement that, on or before Sept. 11, he knew his co-conspirator would be attempting to rob the TD Bank in Westfield, the complaint states.

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