AP NEWS

Two Charged In Hanover Twp. Bank Heist

May 24, 2019

HANOVER TWP. — Two men who robbed an M&T Bank Wednesday morning dumped hundreds of dollars in cash along Interstate 81 after discovering a tracking device in the loot, then used the remaining money to buy heroin before their arrest hours later, according to charges filed Thursday.

Aaron Fernandez, 29, of Hazleton, and Wayne Castetter, 45, of Wilkes-Barre, were charged Thursday with conspiring to rob the bank on the Sans Souci Parkway around 11:45 a.m. Wednesday.

According to the complaint, a man wearing blue rubber gloves, oversize sunglasses, black sweat pants and a hooded sweatshirt entered the bank and passed a note to a teller: “ROBBERY MONEY NOW 100 50 20 LETS GO.”

The robber got an estimated $3,000 before fleeing the scene and running south on the Sans Souci Parkway, police said.

The money was equipped with a tracking device, and police were able to follow it to I-81 southbound before the tracker stopped moving, according to the complaint. When officers reached the area of the last ping at mile marker 163.3, they found $540 in $20 bills along the shoulder, most of which had been cut to remove the tracker, the charges said.

Police also received information that a white convertible Ford Mustang had been seen speeding through the Hanover Industrial Park a short time after the robbery. Investigators got images of the car from Hanover Area School District surveillance footage, and forwarded them to Hazleton police.

Officers in Hazleton recognized one of the men in the images as Fernandez, who has a lengthy criminal history and was also wanted on escape charges for failing to return to the Luzerne County Correctional Facility’s Minimal Offenders Building in March.

Upon arriving at Fernandez’s home, police observed a white Ford Mustang that matched the one in the surveillance videos, police said.

Fernandez’s mother was driving the vehicle and was found in possession of $40 of serialized cash that had stolen from the bank, police said. She told investigators she got the money from Castetter, who previously served up to 11 years for robbery and had come to her home from a halfway house a few days earlier.

Police then got a warrant and raided the home, arresting Fernandez and Castetter.

Castetter denied robbing the bank and requested a lawyer, but Fernandez agreed to speak to investigators.

According to the complaint, Fernandez admitted being the man who robbed the bank, saying Castetter had waited outside. After the robbery, Fernandez showed Castetter the money, and Castetter expressed concern about getting caught because he is on parole, the complaint said.

While Castetter drove the get-away car, Fernandez noticed the money had a tracking device and so he threw most of the money out along I-81, according to his statement. Fernandez claimed to have kept only about $300, and that he used most of that money to buy heroin when they got to Hazleton, the complaint says.

Fernandez also apologized for the robbery, saying he planned to give the money to his mother to help her out and that he is a drug addict who needs help, according to the complaint.

Police charged Fernandez with robbery, conspiracy to commit robbery, theft and receiving stolen property. Castetter was charged with conspiracy to commit robbery, theft and receiving stolen property.

Magisterial District Judge Thomas F. Malloy Sr. arraigned the pair Thursday morning and set Castetter’s bail at $175,000. Fernandez’s bail was set at $225,000 in the robbery case and $50,000 in the escape case.

They were being held at the Luzerne County Correctional Facility with preliminary hearings set for June 5.

Contact the writer:

jhalpin@citizensvoice.com

570-821-2058

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