YOU READ IT HERE FIRST: A federal grand jury in Newark today indicted a North Bergen trio — one of them a career criminal who escaped from the Hudson County Jail — in connection with bank robberies last year in Fairview and Secaucus.
Gary Bohanan, a former North Bergen resident who police said lives in Keansburg, carjacked a van at gunpoint in North Bergen after the July 26 Fairview holdup but barely made it down Third Avenue before crashing it into a porch at 91st Street in North Bergen, authorities told CLIFFVIEW PILOT at the time.bohanan
Police seized what turned out to be an air gun and several thousand dollars in cash – some of which was covered in dye from an exploding pack — following the TD Bank robbery on Fairview Avenue.
Bohanan, 44, escaped from the Hudson County Jail in May 1998 before being captured a month later after robbing a bank in Westchester. He’s spent several years in prison for holdups of banks, check-cashing outlets and a Taco Bell the past 20 years, records show.
He was paroled in November 2012 after serving more than 11 years for convictions that included armed robbery.
A second suspect — 20-year-old Angel Feliu — was tracked down in Hoboken Cemetery between 58th Street and Meadowview Avenue and Tonnelle Avenue by two North Bergen police officers.
Authorities were trying to determine how Feliu got his hands on a getaway car, raising the possibility that at least one other person was involved in the holdup, a law enforcement source with direct knowledge of the investigation told CLIFFVIEW PILOT at the time.
Today’s federal grand jury indictment clears that up, adding 45-year-old Josephine Chenet as the third defendant and charging all three with another robbery — that one of the Sovereign Bank (now Santander Bank) in Secaucus four days earlier.
The federal indictment says Bohanan and Feliu entered the Secaucus bank wearing latex gloves on their hands and masks over their faces.
The M.O. was the same as in Fairview, it says:
“Bohanan brandished a black handgun, jumped over the counter and proceeded to empty two drawers of money into a black bag, while pointing the handgun at bank tellers. As Bohanan emptied the drawers, Feliu stood guard. Bohanan and Feliu then fled the bank into a car driven by Chenet.”
Four days later, Fairview Police Chief Frank DelVecchio and North Bergen Police Chief Robert Dowd issued a joint release in which they said that Feliu held people inside Fairview’s TD Bank at knifepoint while Bohanan jumped the counter and collected the cash.
Two DPW workers walked in as the two fled, then began chasing them when those inside shouted that the bank had been robbed, a law enforcement officer with direct knowledge of the incident told CLIFFVIEW PILOT late this afternoon.
The pair ran east on Fairview Avenue, then cut down dead-ended Lincoln Street, with the DPW workers chasing them. They then dashed through an alleyway next to the Dumbbells Health & Fitness, emerging on Kennedy Boulevard, the source said.
A construction worker, seeing what was happening, tried chasing down Bohanan with his van.
But Bohanan pointed the gun at him and tried taking the vehicle — only he couldn’t get it into the right gear, the chiefs said in their statement. After it smashed a porch, he took off, dropping the weapon and cash.
Fairview Patrolman Flavio Mattessich and a trio of North Bergen officers — Lt. Timothy Faranda, Sgt. Alex Guzman and Detective Michael Derin — said they found Bohanan hiding under a truck in an alley at 8607 First Street.
Feliu, meanwhile, fled in a silver Nissan Altima and was followed by another civilian to 58th Street, where he abandoned the car and ran into the cemetery next to the Meadowview Village public housing complex, authorities said.
Today’s indictment says that Chenet was behind the wheel.
U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman credited special agents of the FBI with the investigation and thanked Fairview, North Bergen, and Secaucus police for “their contributions to the case.”
Representing the government is Assistant U.S. Attorney Francisco J. Navarro of Fishman’s General Crimes Unit in Newark.
Dowd and DelVecchio, meanwhile, praised the citizens involved in chasing the suspects and collecting the stolen cash.
“Without the coordination and cooperation from each agency — and especially the civilian witnesses and victims — the defendants would not have been captured as quickly,” they said.
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