A Far Rockaway man, who admitted to the armed robbery of three banks in Nassau County, was sentenced Friday to almost 11 years in prison, according to federal officials.
Pedro Benitez, 21, also was sentenced to 3 years supervised release and was ordered to pay $71,395 in restitution by U.S. District Judge Joanna Seybert in Central Islip.
As part of a plea bargain, Benitez was sentenced only for pleading guilty to an armed bank robbery and the use of a gun in a crime of violence in a fourth bank robbery. That crime was the Sept. 20, 2017 robbery in Queens of more than $50,000 from a Fresh Meadows branch of the Queens County Savings bank, officials said. Seybert sentenced him to 10 years and 10 months in prison.
The three Nassau County robberies that Benitez also admitted to occurred in the summer of 2017, according to court papers filed by Eastern District Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael Maffei.
Those three robberies, Maffei wrote, involved: the July 14 robbery of $2,200 from Roslyn Savings Bank in Valley Stream; the Aug. 7 robbery of $6,750 from a TD Bank branch in Cedarhurst; and the Aug. 21 robbery of $12,000 from Bridgehampton National Bank in Hewlett.
In each of the robberies, Benitez was the gunman who entered the bank and robbed employees of the cash, officials said.
Two other members of his crew also have been convicted and await sentencing, while two others still face trial, officials said.
The case was investigated by the FBI’s New York Joint Violent Crime Task Force and the Nassau County Police Department.
Eastern District U.S. Attorney Richard Donoghue said in a statement: “Pedro Benitez thought committing armed bank robberies was a good way to get money, but he learned that it was just a good way to end up in prison.”
“The value of a dollar was worth more to Benitez than the value of someone’s safety,” said William Sweeney, head of the FBI in New York, in a statement. “For the sake of quick and easy cash, Benitez placed bank customers and employees in grave danger, displaying a gun in each robbery.”
Benitez’s attorney, Mitchell Golub of Manhattan, declined to comment.