Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Southern District of New York
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, January 7, 2016
Three Bronx Men, Including A Corrections Officer, Charged In Manhattan Federal Court With Armored Car Robbery Conspiracy
Preet Bharara, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, Diego Rodriquez, Assistant Director-in-Charge of the New York Field Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (“FBI”), and William J. Bratton, Commissioner of the New York City Police Department (“NYPD”), announced that MICHAEL SANTIAGO, a corrections officer at Downstate Correctional Facility in Fishkill, New York, KENNETH SMITH, and BRUCE COLLAZO, a/k/a “Tonz,” were arrested this morning for participating in a conspiracy to rob a series of armored cars in the Bronx, New York. SANTIAGO, SMITH, and COLLAZO were presented today in Manhattan federal court before United States Magistrate Judge Andrew J. Peck.
Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said: “Michael Santiago, a corrections officer entrusted with the safekeeping of the community, Kenneth Smith, and Bruce Collazo are charged with conspiring to conduct a series of brazen daytime armed robberies, provoking gun violence on busy streets, and putting lives at risk. Together with our partners at the FBI and the NYPD, we are committed to keeping our neighborhoods safe by taking violent criminals off the streets.”
FBI Assistant Director-in-Charge Diego Rodriquez said: “As alleged, over several months, the defendants conspired to brazenly hold up armored car operators at gunpoint for cash. This vicious activity put everyday citizens in the forefront of violence, and the FBI-NYPD Violent Crimes Task Force stands with our law enforcement partners to investigate and bring all those involved to justice.”
NYPD Commissioner William J. Bratton said: “This is the type of collaboration we rely on to keep our city safe. This operation, taken down earlier this morning in raids across the Bronx, is the most significant case since the re-formation of the oldest task force in law enforcement history. Together, NYPD detectives and FBI agents arrested these defendants who, among other things, engaged in a massive midday shoot-out on a busy Bronx street, as alleged. Tonight, our city – because of the hard work of agents, detectives, and prosecutors – is a little bit safer.”
According to the Complaint:
Between August and December 2015, SANTIAGO, SMITH, and COLLAZO, along with other members of the robbery crew who remain at large, participated in gunpoint robberies of armored car operators. Specifically, on August 24, 2015, December 4, 2015, and December 15, 2015, members of the crew robbed armored car operators of thousands of dollars in cash at gunpoint. During the December 15, 2015, robbery, a member of the crew exchanged gunfire with the operator of the armored vehicle before escaping on foot.
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SANTIAGO, 29, SMITH, 34, and COLLAZO, 20, all of the Bronx, New York, are each charged with one count of conspiracy to commit Hobbs Act robbery, which carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison; and one count of using or carrying firearms during and in relation to, or possessing firearms in furtherance of, a crime of violence, which firearms were discharged, which carries a maximum sentence of life in prison, and a mandatory consecutive minimum sentence of 10 years in prison. The maximum potential sentences in this case are prescribed by Congress and are provided here for informational purposes only, as any sentencing of the defendants will be determined by the judge.
Mr. Bharara praised the efforts of the FBI, the NYPD, the New York State Department of Corrections and Community Supervision, and the Office of Special Investigation in this investigation. He added that the investigation is continuing.
This case is being handled by the Office’s General Crimes Unit. Assistant United States Attorney Matthew Podolsky is in charge of the prosecution.
The charges contained in the Complaint are merely accusations, and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.