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Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Westport Bank Robber Pleads Guilty

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Bank surveillance photo of robber. Contributed photo
A New Jersey man who robbed Westport’s Commerce Bank on Main Street in January 2008 dressed as a woman pleaded guilty in a Camden, N.J. federal court today to bank robbery charges, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said.

Huy Trong Luong, 40, of Jersey City, N.J. admitted to robbing or attempting to rob nine banks in New Jersey and Connecticut over a five-month period in 2008 and getting away with more than $39,000, prosecutors said.

The U.S. Attorney’s office said he specifically pleaded guilty to two counts of bank robbery associated with the April 20, 2008, robbery of Commerce Bank in Bergenfield, N.J. and the Jan. 11, 2008, robbery of a Wachovia branch in Greenwich.

Luong also admitted committing the other seven robberies, and all of the conduct will be taken into consideration at sentencing, prosecutors said.

Luong, dubbed the “Cross-Dressing Bandit,” was caught after holding up a bank in Chatham, N.J., last May. Police found a black wig, Dolce & Gabbana hat and a woman’s makeup kit in his getaway van. (See WestportNow May 6, 2008)

During the Westport robbery, the suspect said he had a bomb in a bag he was carrying. The loss in the Commerce Bank robbery in Westport was more than $2,000. (See WestportNow Jan. 13, 2008)

Luong entered his guilty plea before U.S. District Judge Jerome B. Simandle, who scheduled sentencing for July 10.

Under terms of his plea agreement and, as determined by the advisory U.S. Sentencing Guidelines, Luong, who remains in custody, faces a potential sentencing range of between 70 and 87 months in prison, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said.

His criminal history, once determined by the court, could increase his sentence. Luong also faces fines and mandatory restitution to the banks, prosecutors said.

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Posted 03/31/09 at 08:51 PM  Permalink



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