Sergeant John McCormack, Sergeant Todd Lentini, Detective Steven Kostka and Detective Shawn Solek were recently honored with a Certificate of Recognition by the United States Attorney’s Office, District of Connecticut for their work on the 2008 armed robbery of the Webster Bank on Webster Square Road in Berlin. Also honored were four members of the Windsor Police Department and an FBI Agent.
Between July and September 2008, brothers Luis and Felix Soto carried out five gunpoint robberies in Berlin, Windsor and Higganum. On each occasion, one or both of the Soto brothers entered a bank with what appeared to be a pistol, ordered customers and employees to the floor, and forced tellers to empty their cash drawers. On at least one occasion, Luis Soto put a gun directly to the head of one of the bank’s managers demanding cash. On each occasion, the brothers were able to get away.
This case is a perfect example of cooperative policing, among the Berlin and Windsor Police Departments and the FBI. The Berlin Police Department recovered significant evidence from the scene of the July 2008 robbery, which included a mask and hat from the drive through lane which were found to have DNA from the Soto brothers. The Windsor Police Department, investigating two September robberies from a New Alliance Bank, was able to build enough evidence against Luis Soto for an attest warrant.
Upon arrest, Windsor PD found parts of Luis’ disguise, cash, and a BB gun. Significantly, both police departments carefully collected and researched the cellular phones of both brothers when they were arrested. Those phones were subsequently used to identify co-conspirators and to gather cell site data, which in turn was critical evidence showing the presence of the brothers and their co-conspirators near the banks at the time of the robberies.
In September 2009, the brothers were indicted for the July 2008 Berlin robbery, and Luis was indicted for one of the September robberies in Windsor. Felix Soto pleaded guilty, and in the spring of 2011 Luis Soto was tired and convicted for the 2008 Berlin robbery.
The trial included testimony of several of the award recipients. After his conviction, Luis Soto then pleaded guilty to robbing banks in both Windsor and Higganum. Luis Soto was sentenced to 15 years imprisonment, and Felix received 12 years imprisonment.