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Two men plead guilty in $510,000 armored car theft, officials say

Police at the scene after the robbery of

Police at the scene after the robbery of an armored truck in Valley Stream on Nov. 2, 2018. Credit: Jim Staubitser

Two members of a Queens motorcycle club pleaded guilty Friday in connection with the theft of $510,000 from an armored car that was left unlocked outside a Valley Stream bank, according to officials.

Both Alexis Laguerra, 30, of Brooklyn, and Raymond Soto Sr., 48, of Richmond Hill, Queens, pleaded guilty to a single count of bank larceny in federal district court in Central Islip in front of Magistrate Anne Shields.

Soto’s son, Raymond Soto Jr., 30, also of Richmond Hill, and a member of the same motorcycle club, had pleaded guilty previously to bank larceny in the case of what officials called an "inside job" in the Nov. 2, 2018, theft near the HSBC branch on Sunrise Highway in Valley Stream.

“This inside job will now land these three defendants inside prison for a long enough time to realize over and over, what a stupid idea this was," said Eastern District U.S. Attorney Richard Donoghue, crediting the FBI and Nassau police for quickly arresting the three a month after the crime.

The three were longtime acquaintances and members of the Unknown Bikers motorcycle club, according to Eastern District prosecutor Charles Kelly.

Laguerra was the driver of the Garda World armored car, who left it unlocked, and who notified the Sotos by cellphone when he and an another unidentified employee would be at  the bank to refill ATMs, officials said.

Soto Jr. then drove the armored car several blocks away, stole three bags each containing $170,000 in cash, and was driven away from the scene by his father, officials said.

According to a complaint filed by FBI agent Martha Berdote, the job of Laguerra and the unidentified  employee was to refill ATMs at bank branches in the late evening and early morning hours with “fresh money” of between $99,000 and $275,000. The other employee was not charged in the case.

The other employee determined the route the armored car was to take, but Laguerra sent an instant message to his accomplices saying that the armored car would be at the Valley Stream branch “around 2-3 am,” Berdote wrote. Surveillance cameras in the area at the time of the theft, showed a person who operated the stolen armored car shortly afterward “carrying a large duffel bag over his shoulder in the manner of Santa Claus,” Berdote wrote. $130,000 of the stolen money was recovered at Soto Sr.,’s home, officials said.

The defendants theoretically face up to 10 years in prison, but under the terms of plea deals they would probably get between 18 and 33 months, along with forfeiture of $300,000,  restitution of $510,000, plus a fine of up to $250,000, officials said.

Laguerra’s attorney, Peter Brill of Brooklyn, declined to comment afterward; the attorney for Soto Sr., Howard Greenberg of Brooklyn, said the hearing "speaks" for itself.

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