Three men were indicted Friday in connection with the November early-morning heist of a GardaWorld armored car outside of a Valley Stream bank, an inside job that netted the thieves more than $500,000, federal officials said.
Prosecutors said GardaWorld driver Alexis Laguerra, 30, of Brooklyn, devised a scheme with Raymond Soto Jr., 28, also known as “Rambo,” and his father, Raymond Soto Sr., 48, also known as “Razor,” both of Richmond Hill, to steal the armored car while Laguerra and another employee delivered money to automated teller machines inside the bank. The car was driven away from the location and abandoned, its three bags of money removed.
Laguerra, Raymond Soto Jr., and Raymond Soto Sr., each face a charge of bank larceny in connection with the Nov. 2 crime, said U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York Richard P. Donoghue.
Laguerra and Raymond Soto Jr. also face obstruction of justice charges for allegedly trying to destroy text messages they had exchanged to carry out the theft, officials said.
Attorneys for Laguerra and the younger Soto could not be reached for comment.
But Peter Brill of Hempstead, who represents the elder Soto, said his client is a lifelong New York resident with no criminal record.
“The government obviously is alleging he was part of a conspiracy to steal from this armored car company,” Brill said, adding that the alleged proceeds authorities said came from the theft were not found in the part of the Soto home where his client lived. “We’ll wait to see the government’s evidence before we believe an allegation that is seemingly out of character for this guy.”
A criminal complaint filed against the defendants said Laguerra was working as a driver on the 8 p.m-to-6 a.m. shift with another employee who served as a messenger, and that they were supposed to empty ATMs and replenish them.
The complaint said Laguerra drove up to the Sunrise Highway bank at 2:22 a.m. and entered the building with the other employee, who was not identified. Shortly after they were inside, someone else slipped into the driver’s seat and drove the vehicle away.
Officials believe that individual then snatched three bags each containing $170,000 and entered a black Range Rover after abandoning the armored car while “carrying a large duffel bag over his shoulder in the manner of Santa Claus.”
Raymond Soto Sr. was arrested Friday and arraigned before U.S. District Court Magistrate Judge A. Kathleen Tomlinson in Central Islip. He pleaded not guilty and was ordered detained.
Laguerra was arraigned Friday and is free on $250,000 bail, authorities said. The younger Soto remains at large.
Also on Friday, law enforcement officers said they executed a search warrant at the Sotos’ home and recovered $131,000 they believe came from the heist.
If convicted, all three defendants could face up to 10 years in prison on the bank larceny count while Laguerra and Raymond Soto Jr. could face up to 20 years on the conspiracy to obstruct justice charge, officials said.
“The arrest of defendants Soto, Laguerra and Soto is another example of exceptional investigative work by multiple law enforcement agencies to bring closure to a major case,” Nassau Police Commissioner Patrick Ryder said. “These defendants showed little regard for the safety of our residents, the bank and Garda employees, thus stealing over $500,000 from an armored car in a calculated heist.”