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Transit cop arrested in bank heists: Woodhaven rookie, 21, charged in Pennsylvania, NYC robberies

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Christian Torres, 21, of 86-01 94th St. in Woodhaven, was arrested last Thursday in Muhlenberg, Pa., after he allegedly stole $113,000 from a Sovereign bank, a spokesman for the Muhlenberg Township Police said. Torres, who states on his MySpace Web page that he works for the city's transit police, allegedly held up a teller with a non-service pistol and tried to get away in his Toyota Scion before an officer stopped him, according to police."The man wanted to know why he was being pulled over and he identified himself as a New York City police officer," said Officer Joel Marino of the Muhlenberg Township Police.The incident began around 8 a.m. when Torres approached a bank teller as she was going to work and held her up with his silver Glock, police said. As he allegedly entered the bank with his hostage, a second teller observed what was going on and triggered a silent alarm, they said.Torres forced the employees into the bank's vault and demanded that a teller put several packs of bills of $20, $50 and $100 into a CVS shopping bag, according to police. As he left the bank, an officer responding to the alarm allegedly noticed Torres carrying the bag to his car, according to police."The officer noticed that the licence plate was turned backward so the New York plate was turned around," Marino said.As the arresting officer stopped the car near the bank, he allegedly noticed the gun tucked in Torres's waistband and a blond wig and fedora believed to have been used during the robbery was lying on the passenger seat, police said. Several bank employees ran out and identified Torres as the man who robbed the vault, according to Marino. Torres was arraigned at the local magistrate court on several charges, including robbery and terroristic threats. He was held on $500,000 bail and asked for a public defender, Marino said.On his MySpace page, Marino claims to be engaged to a 20-year-old Brooklyn woman named Jennifer. His last "mood update" on the page, dated April 3, listed Torres as "wanted" with a smiley face.Torres' Woodhaven neighbor, Scott Alnwick, said the accusations against the rookie cop go against his character."I was surprised," Alnwick said. "He was a good person. He never acted suspicious or anything. He seemed like a subtle guy. He didn't have any problems."Alnwick, who said he played football with Torres on the block during the winter, said he never heard Torres complain about money but speculated why the officer may have robbed a bank."It seems like rookie cops don't get paid enough," Alnwick said. "Maybe that was the problem."Following his arrest in Pennsylvania, charges were filed against Torres in Manhattan federal court alleging that he robbed a Sovereign Bank at 57 Avenue A in Brooklyn on June 8 and again on Nov. 16, according to Michael Garcia, the U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York.In the June 8 robbery, Torres allegedly handed the teller a note to "empty both drawers" and threatened to "start shooting," Garcia said. Torres allegedly showed the handle of a black gun during the Nov. 16 incident and threatened to shoot a black employee, the U.S. attorney said.He faces up to 20 years in prison if convicted of the June 8 robbery and 25 years for the Nov. 16 theft, Garcia said.Reach reporters Howard Koplowitz and Ivan Pereira by e-mail at news@timesledger.com or by phone at 718-229-0300.

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