1. Berryman's Avatar
    If you can't beat them, join them

    Christian A. Torres’s neighbors in Queens remember his pride, how he stepped tall when he first wore the uniform of a New York City police officer.

    He’d earned a 3.6 grade-point average at John Jay College of Criminal Justice while holding down one or two part-time jobs. He became a leader in the Police Department’s cadet program. In July 2007, he traded his books for a gun belt and joined the Police Academy. Six months later, he was on patrol in the Brooklyn subways.

    But on Friday, Police Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly said that as he moved from cadet to recruit to probationary police officer, Christian A. Torres, 21, was something else as well:

    A serial bank robber.

    Officer Torres, police officials said, committed three robberies at two branches of Sovereign Bank — twice in Manhattan and once in Pennsylvania — apparently using some of the $118,305 for a new car, for a diamond engagement ring for his girlfriend and to pay off his student loans.

    He grew increasingly brazen, the police said: at the first robbery, in June 2007, he simply handed a note to the teller demanding money. At the second, in November, they said, he showed a gun in his belt, which police described as an imitation weapon. At the third, on Thursday, he waved his personal 9-millimeter gun at three bank employees as he demanded cash in $20, $50 and $100 bills, the police said.

    His mini-spree ended Thursday in Pennsylvania when Muhlenberg Township police officers stopped him after the robbery. They found $113,000 in a plastic bag in his car along with a blond wig and a derby hat, masking tape and gloves and a black imitation pistol that investigators believe is the one used in the robbery in November.

    As investigators from New York’s Internal Affairs Bureau asked the Police Department’s Joint Bank Robbery Task Force and the Major Case Squad to scour unsolved cases of robbery in the city, they found apparent links to other bank robberies. Under questioning, Officer Torres soon “made certain admissions” in the two earlier cases in Manhattan, Mr. Kelly said. “He made statements to the effect that he was getting married,” Mr. Kelly said.

    Officer Torres’s friends were dumbstruck.

    “He had his life set,” said one, Elvin Marte, 16, who played football with Officer Torres in Forest Park every weekend and who said the officer was one of the best players because he was so quick and athletic.

    “He knew where he was going in life,” he said.

    Paul S. Missan, a lawyer for Officer Torres, said he visited his client on Friday in Berks County Prison, in Leesport, Pa., and that the officer had been charged only with the Thursday robbery.

    Mr. Missan was not present when Officer Torres appeared for a preliminary arraignment on Thursday, but he said he believed a plea of not guilty was automatically entered on behalf of his client. At a bail hearing on Friday, a judge raised Officer Torres’s bail to $1 million, based on the allegations of pending additional charges, but scheduled a hearing for Monday at 1:30 p.m. in District Court in Berks County, Mr. Missan said.

    “This is a young man who, when he was hired by the N.Y.P.D., had no criminal record,” said Mr. Missan. “He comes from a good family, and we are looking forward to our day in court to see what evidence they have.”

    He added: “I know the F.B.I. and the N.Y.P.D. are doing an investigation, but I don’t know any of the details.”

    Mr. Kelly said he expected Officer Torres to be charged in the cases in Manhattan.

    The police said that Officer Torres is suspected of committing the first bank robbery at 3 p.m. on June 8, while he was a cadet, taking $16,305 from the Sovereign Bank branch at 57 Avenue A on the Lower East Side.

    At 7 a.m. on Nov. 16, he approached three employees at the same branch, ordered them to open a safe and walked off with $102,000, the police said.

    That day, the police said, he bought a 2008 Toyota Scion, putting down $18,500 in cash on a $23,000 vehicle. Also in November, he returned to John Jay and paid off $2,500 in college cadet loans with three postal money orders. And, sometime in the last two months, he bought his girlfriend a 1.5-carat diamond engagement ring, according to the police.

    Mr. Kelly said there was nothing in the young officer’s record to suggest a life on the other side of the law.

    “In other words, everything that we have seen, looked at, there is no indication of being able to predict this stunning series of crimes,” Mr. Kelly said. “His record indicates that he was a smart, hard-working individual with tremendous potential, and this has baffled everyone who thought they knew him.”

    His friends and neighbors who gathered outside a beige brick and stucco house on 94th Street in Woodhaven, Queens, where Officer Torres rented an apartment said that if the person accused of these crimes was the quiet, steady and considerate man they called Chris, they were mystified.

    As a probationary police officer, Officer Torres earned a $32,700 annual base salary. Since 2005, he has paid $700 a month in rent at the house on 94th Street, said Pablo Salcedo, 49, the landlord.

    Mr. Salcedo’s son, Chris, 20, said Officer Torres enjoyed in-line skating, football and baseball.

    “He loved being a cop,” Chris Salcedo said. “That is all he talked about.”

    On his MySpace page, Officer Torres had a nickname, “The Law,” and listed his profession as “Oink.” The Web page includes a police car image.

    As darkness fell on Friday, officials from the F.B.I. arrived and entered Officer Torres’s home; the flash from their cameras was visible in a window.

    Mr. Kelly said that Officer Torres grew up in the Bronx and won a “full scholarship” to Rye Country Day School in Westchester County. He completed two years at John Jay College. As a police cadet, he worked on a Manhattan detective squad. The psychological tests he took before becoming a police officer were “unremarkable,” Mr. Kelly said; there were no red flags.

    “There is nothing negative in the record,” Mr. Kelly said.

    Source: NY Times, April 12, 2008
    04-17-08 03:34 AM
  2. JazzeeJEF's Avatar
    Holy Cow!!! How crazy is this?!?!?!
    04-17-08 10:46 AM
  3. Dr. Newport's Avatar
    Officer Felony is the kinda guy we need to hire to track Dean down.
    Last edited by Muphukka; 04-17-08 at 12:50 PM. Reason: ****
    04-17-08 12:50 PM
  4. Dr. Newport's Avatar
    "That day, the police said, he bought a 2008 Toyota Scion, putting down $18,500 in cash on a $23,000 vehicle"

    04-17-08 12:53 PM
  5. garbagefairy1967's Avatar
    Whoa, that is really messed up!!
    04-17-08 03:18 PM