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Man free on no bail faces federal bank robbery charges, officials say

A Hempstead man who had recently robbed four banks in Nassau County — two of them after he had been released with no bail from county court — has been indicted on federal bank robbery charges, according to officials and court records.

Romell Nellis, 40, of Hempstead, was originally indicted by the Nassau County District Attorney’s office on the bank robbery charges.

But the case was transferred to federal court Thursday to combine the robbery charges with a pending sentencing Nellis faces for violating supervised release after he served a federal sentence for conspiracy to distribute crack cocaine.

“This defendant will face federal charges including an alleged violation of federal probation,” said Miriam Sholder, a spokeswoman for the Nassau County District’s Attorney’s office. “Accordingly, state charges were dismissed.”

Nellis violated a federal supervised release condition in 2019, according to U.S. court records. The violation occurred after Nellis had served a sentence of 85 months in federal prison for conviction of conspiracy to distribute crack cocaine. The prison sentence was supposed to be followed by four years of supervised release. The reason for the violation was not listed in the available court records.

An attorney for Nellis could not immediately be reached.

Nellis was first arrested in January by Nassau police in the December robberies of a Roslyn Savings Bank in West Hempstead and a Chase bank branch in Valley Stream.

He was initially ordered held on $10,000 bail for those robberies by Nassau District Court Judge David McAndrews, though the charges were not eligible for bail, according to records. However, Nassau County Judge Christopher Quinn overturned that ruling and released Nellis without bail, but with electronic monitoring.

Nellis cut off the electronic monitor after being released, and in February committed two other bank robberies — a second robbery of the Roslyn Savings Bank in West Hempstead and a Wells Fargo branch in Hempstead, according to officials.

In the Roslyn robbery, Nellis gave a teller a note “stating he had a gun,” and demanded cash, then took off with an undisclosed amount of money, police said.

Detectives identified Nellis as the suspect based on what had occurred in the December robberies.

In addition to the violation of his federal supervised release, Nellis also faces four separate federal charges of bank robbery, each of which carries a sentence of up to 20 years in prison.

Nellis is scheduled to be arraigned next week on the federal bank robbery charges at the federal court in Central Islip, but no date has been set, according to Eastern District spokesman John Marzulli.

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