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Stickup leader in FBI agent’s death gets 117 years

Photo Credit: Cliffview Pilot

The leader of a violent stickup gang who caused the death of an FBI agent was sentenced today to more than 117 years in federal prison.

Francisco Herrera-Genao, 24, of New Brunswick literally must turn 134 before he will eligible for parole, under the sentences imposed by U.S. District Judge Anne E. Thompson. The federal system doesn’t have parole.

Special Agent Barry Lee Bush was accidentally killed during one of the holdups, increasing the government’s intent not only to catch the gang but to hold its members accountable.

“Although this sentence will never bring back our colleague, we are pleased justice has been served,” said Weysan Dun, FBI Special Agent in Charge in Newark.

“This sentence is perhaps the most fitting way to honor agent Bush and the sacrifice both he and his family have made to keep the citizens of New Jersey and elsewhere safe,” Dun said.

Herrara-Genao

In each of the holdups, the thugs fired weapons to scare employees and patrons. One time, a bullet that ricocheted off the ceiling grazed a customer’s leg. Another time, a bank employee was hit with flying glass and bullet fragments.

“The conduct was so brazen, repetitive and violent that this defendant deserves nothing less than this,” Acting U.S. Attorney Ralph J. Marra, Jr. said following the sentencing.

“But for (the gang’s) actions, there would have been no need for Agent Bush to have been out there that day with a task force formed specifically to stop their violent crime spree,” Marra said.

An FBI task force had been shadowing Herrera-Genao, Michael Cruz, and Wilfredo Berrios (aka “Robo Cop”) when they pulled up to a PNC Bank branch on Route 22 in Readington on April 5, 2007.

Bush was shot and killed by an accidental discharge from the weapon of another agent.

Berrios was arrested outside the bank with a .380-caliber handgun, an SKS assault rifle and an MDL assault rifle, all of which the crew had used in prior holdups.

Gang member Efrain Lynn, 22, (aka “Pepino”), who authorities said didn’t participate that day, was arrested within hours of the holdup.

Herrera-Genao ran but was picked up the next day.

Federal jurors convicted him, Berrios, and Lynn, all of New Brunswick, as well — last December.

Herrera-Genao was convicted on all 11 counts of an indictment: one count of conspiracy to commit armed bank robbery, four counts of bank robbery, one count of attempted bank robbery, and five counts of possessing a weapon in furtherance of a crime of violence.

Cruz pleaded guilty in January 2008 to the attempted robbery in Readington and another armed robbery preceding it.

Berrios and Lynn are scheduled to be sentenced on May 22, Cruz on May 27th.

Charles B. McKenna, Chief of the U.S. Attorney’s Office Criminal Division, prosecuted the case with Assistant U.S. Attorney Jacob T. Elberg.

Marra credited Special Agents of the FBI, as well as several local departments from Piscataway, East Brunswick, New Brunswick, Ocean Township, South Brunswick, and Readington, as well as the State Police, and the Monmouth, Somerset and Middlesex County Prosecutor’s Offices, all of whom provided manpower for the task force.

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