Alleged serial bank robber arrested after morning robbery in Colonia

NEWARK — A man allegedly responsible for a three-county New Jersey bank robbery spree faces a federal charge today following his arrest yesterday, after the rush hour robbery of a Rahway Savings Institute in Colonia, U.S. Attorney Paul Fishman announced.

Jason Novello, 35, of Elizabeth, is charged by complaint with one count of bank robbery in connection with the Colonia theft. He made his initial appearance today before U.S. Judge James Clark, III in Newark federal court and was detained.

According to the complaint filed today and statements made in court: At approximately 9:05 a.m. on May 1, Novello entered the Rahway Savings Institute in Colonia, approached a bank teller and held up a note claiming he had a gun and demanded money.

The teller gave the cash to Novello, including two “bait bills” from which the serial numbers had been pre-recorded by the bank.

A bank employee followed Novello out of the bank and noted the license plate of the blue Hyundai Elantra in which Novello fled. Law enforcement officers were able to track the car’s registration to an address where they waited for Novello. FBI agents arrested him when he showed up in the Hyundai.

Including the latest Colonia robbery with which he is charged, the complaint alleges Novello committed nine robberies in the nine months from August 2013 to May 2014, robbing two of the banks – in Colonia and Elizabeth – twice each:

May 1, 2014; Rahway Savings Institute, Colonia

April 28, 2014; PNC Bank, Scotch Plains

March 22, 2014; Rahway Savings Institute, Colonia

March 8, 2014; Capital One Bank, Iselin

March 1, 2014; PNC Bank, Edison

Jan. 25, 2014; Capital One Bank, North Plainfield

Dec. 7, 2013; PNC Bank, Fanwood

Oct. 30, 2013; Investors Savings Bank, Elizabeth

Aug. 30, 2013; Investors Savings Bank, Elizabeth

The bank robbery charge carries a maximum potential penalty of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

Fishman praised special agents of the FBI, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Aaron Ford in Newark, and thanked the Middlesex and Somerset County Prosecutors’ Offices, as well as the Woodbridge, Edison, North Plainfield, Fanwood, Scotch Plains and Elizabeth police departments for their work.

The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Cari Fais of the U.S. Attorney’s Office General Crimes Unit in Newark.