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Ex−Woodhaven cop gets 10 years for rob

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A Woodhaven man who was a rookie police officer when he robbed a Pennsylvania bank last year was sentenced to 10 years in prison Monday by a Pennsylvania federal judge.

Christian Torres, 22, of 86−01 94th St., pleaded guilty June 16, 2008, to robbing a Sovereign Bank in Reading, Pa., at gunpoint with his service revolver and taking off with $113,000, according to the U.S. attorney’s office for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.

U.S. District Judge Thomas M. Golden sentenced Torres to 10 years in prison Monday and ordered him to pay a $2,000 fine and complete five years of supervised release, according to the U.S. attorney. The $113,000 stolen from the bank had been recovered.

Torres waited outside the Reading bank on the morning of April 10, 2008, until a female employee arrived for work. He then approached the employee and tried to talk to her about opening up a mortgage, but she told him the bank was not open and he should come back at 8:30 a.m., according to court documents.

Torres then stepped away to talk on his cell phone when one of the women’s colleagues unlocked the back door, and the Woodhaven man forced his way into the bank, causing a teller to activate a silent alarm, the U.S. attorney said.

When Torres was told again that the bank was not open, he pulled out a loaded Glock 9mm pistol and led the women to the bank’s vault and forced them to open it.

As Torres was leaving the bank, an officer with the Muhlenberg Township Police Department arrived on the scene and saw him with a plastic bag.

The officer followed Torres’ car for less than a block when he pulled him over.

Torres, using a CVS shopping bag to carry the cash, told the officer he was just coming from the drugstore and said he was a New York City police officer. The officer ordered Torres out of the car and Torres said he was armed when the officer asked if he was.

The officer disarmed Torres and detained him. When the officer looked inside the car, he saw a bag of cash lying on the passenger floor. One of the bank employees was brought to the scene and identified Torres as the bank robber and he was arrested.

When he pleaded guilty to the bank theft, Torres also confessed to robbing a Sovereign branch in Brooklyn twice in June and November 2007.

Torres, a rookie transit officer during the crime, was suspended by the NYPD after he was charged last year.

He still faces charges in the other two bank robberies.

Reach reporter Howard Koplowitz by e−mail at hkoplowitz@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718−229−0300, Ext. 173.

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