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Friday, April 18, 2008

Rookie cop charged in heists had bank teller accomplice - sources

The New York Daily News by THOMAS ZAMBITO AND TAMER EL-GHOBASHY - April 18, 2008

The NYPD rookie-turned-bank-robber got inside help - a college pal who worked at a Manhattan bank he hit twice, authorities said Thursday. Christina Dasrath told the disgraced transit cop about Sovereign Bank's "lax" security then feigned fear when Christian Torres twice held up the Avenue A branch where she was a teller, authorities said. Torres, 21, allegedly gave Dasrath a cut of the more than $118,000 he stole during two robberies last year. Dasrath, 20, of the Bronx, wept during an appearance at Manhattan Federal Court on Thursday where she was charged with conspiring to commit bank fraud, bank robbery and making false statements to FBI agents. Dasrath, described as a bright girl who is seeking a degree in forensic psychology from Manhattan's John Jay College of Criminal Justice, faces up to 60 years in prison if convicted.

Shortly after she was hired as a bank teller in April 2007, Dasrath told Torres that the bank instructs employees not to resist demands for cash from thieves, authorities said. On the morning of June 8, 2007, she spoke with Torres who told her he planned to rob the bank that day, prosecutors said. Sure enough, he showed up at Dasrath's teller window and passed her a note ordering her to "empty both drawers," court papers said. Torres made off with $16,305 and later met Dasrath in a Bronx parking lot where she got her share of the loot, prosecutors said.

In November, Dasrath allegedly told Torres that as a result of his heist, less cash was being kept in teller drawers. She said the big money was in the vault - then hinted that it might be easiest to gain access early in the morning when only three employees are on hand, authorities said. On Nov. 16, Torres allegedly held up the bank at gunpoint, tying up one employee before Dasrath and another teller led him to the vault where he bagged $102,000. Again, the pair met afterward, and Torres gave her a cut, prosecutors said.

Their conspiracy was uncovered when Torres was nabbed last week in Pennsylvania moments after he held up a Sovereign Bank in Muhlenberg - nearly making off with $113,000. Authorities said the cop began babbling about his previous capers and even told them about an aborted robbery in Reading, Pa. It was unclear if he ratted out Dasrath. Torres used the cash to buy a Toyota Scion and a diamond engagement ring for his aspiring-model fiancée. The petite bank teller was freed Thursday on $250,000 bail. Her lawyer Hugh Mundy said she feared reporting Torres to authorities.

On her page, Dasrath lists the prestigious, all-girls Nightingale-Bamford school on the upper East Side as her alma mater. Her brother, Christopher Dasrath, speaking outside their Castle Hill home, said his sister grew up in a strict home with a good family. "She's not the type to do something like that. She's mature." Christopher, 16, said his sister doesn't spend much money and just recently bought a car. "The only thing she bought recently was a black Toyota for 3 Gs, and it doesn't even have a CD player," he said. With Alison Gendar, Dorian Block and Edgar Sandoval

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