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N.J. bank robbery ringleader gets 117 years

Herrera-Genao, 24, was involved in a string of robberies. Herrera-Genao, 24, was involved in a string of robberies.
Associated Press / May 12, 2009
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TRENTON, N.J. - A New Jersey man will spend the rest of his life behind bars for his role in a string of bank robberies that led to the death of an FBI agent in 2007.

Francisco Herrera-Genao, 24, was convicted in December of four counts of bank robbery, one count of attempted bank robbery, and five weapons counts. He was sentenced yesterday to 117 years in prison.

Wilfredo Berrios and Efrain Lynn were also convicted. They are scheduled to be sentenced Friday. A fourth man in the case previously pleaded guilty and will be sentenced later in the month.

Authorities said the ring of men hit four banks in central New Jersey before they were apprehended outside a PNC Bank in Readington. FBI Agent Barry Lee Bush, who lived near Easton, Pa., was mistakenly shot and killed by a fellow agent.

The defendants couldn't be charged with Bush's death, but US District Court Judge Anne E. Thompson was allowed to consider it when sentencing Herrera-Genao, and she did. "The agent gave his life because of a set of actions that Mr. Herrera-Genao put into action," Thompson said.

Assistant US Attorney Jacob Elberg said Herrera-Genao was the ringleader of the bank robbery crew and fired a semiautomatic handgun in three of the heists. A teller was hurt in one of the robberies when bullet fragments flew into her eyes.

Under federal sentencing guidelines, Thompson had to sentence Herrera-Genao to at least 110 years in prison.