Charged in bank robbery spree


The suspect in the Nov. 29 robbery of the Provident Bank in Kearny, arrested in Jersey City the following day, has been linked to four other recent heists, including one in Harrison, authorities reported.

Jermaine W. Mason (a/k/a Asim Harris), 39, of Newark — picked up on a warrant Nov. 30 by the JCPD, FBI agents and U.S. Marshals — has been charged with five counts of bank robbery in an October-November spree, U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman announced last week.

Prior to his arrest, Fishman said, Mason was on federal supervised release for a bank robbery conviction dating to crimes in 2006-2007.

According to the current complaint, the recent heists targeted the Kearny Bank on Harrison Ave. in Harrison on Oct. 21; PNC Bank, Jersey City, Nov. 3; Popular Community Bank, Newark, Nov. 17, and Provident Bank, Jersey City, Nov. 18.

On Nov. 29, it was Kearny’s turn. The KPD said the robber entered the Provident Bank at 249 Kearny Ave. at about 10:30 a.m., walking into the office out of a pouring rain. Dressed in all-black (soaking wet) clothing, he reportedly approached a female teller and demanded “50’s and 100’s.”  Police said no weapon was shown or indicated.

According to the criminal complaint: At each bank, Mason either presented a note demanding cash from tellers or verbally demanded money. For example, during the Nov. 3 robbery, he handed the teller a note that read: “I’m not going play [sic] with you. You get one chance. $100 [and] $50 bills pass to me — stack!”

The Nov. 17 note stated: “Hand me the money. $100 bills or we [are] going [to] have a problem!”  [Editor’s note: Bank robbers apparently don’t spend money on grammar lessons. But some may buy cars.]

Authorities said the suspect’s identity was developed through latent fingerprints at the crime scenes, along with security videos, including footage of the robber fleeing one Jersey City hold-up in a 2005 silver Monte Carlo, which investigation revealed Mason had purchased two weeks before.

Among the agencies credited with work leading to the arrest were the Kearny and Harrison police departments.

The estimated take from the Provident/Kearny hold-up was $1,700.

Investigators said Mason scored approximately: $1,549 from the Harrison heist; $11,890 from PNC/Jersey City; $440 in Newark; and $850, Provident/Jersey City. Each of the five bank robbery charges he now faces carries a maximum potential penalty of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

Mason was remanded to the Hudson County Jail. His initial court appearance will be scheduled at a later date, Fishman said.

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