Saturday, November 19
GREENWICH, N.Y. — One of the men who robbed the Trustco Bank of $177,000 last week claims that a bank employee may have been in on the job, according to the FBI.

In a sworn confession, Matthew P. Fortier said the head teller at the bank left the vault door open about 90 minutes after the bank received a delivery of cash, and the robbers knew which cash bundles were "bait" money containing dye packs, according to the FBI.

Meanwhile, Bennington, Vt., Police suspect the alleged leader of the bank heist, Kenneth J. Happ, 53, of Eagle Bridge may have been involved with residential burglaries in their town.

Happ, Fortier, 23, and Juan Torres-Abadia, 23, were arrested earlier this week and charged with armed robbery in U.S. District Court in Albany. The trio is accused of holding up the Trustco Bank shortly before it closed for the night on Nov. 10.

Fortier provided the FBI with a sworn statement after being arrested on Tuesday, according to Special Agent Scott A. Rottman. Fortier allegedly told the FBI that Happ knew the husband of one of the bank clerks.

"Ken was the one who planned and coordinated this robbery. ... I was surprised at how well the robbery went and would not be surprised if Ken had help from someone within the bank," said Fortier, who said he got $50,000 for his share.

Rottman said head teller Jessica L.


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Lee left the vault open in violation of Trustco bank protocol. Fortier reported that Happ knew a man named Art who works at the True Value Hardware store in Cambridge and whose wife worked at the Trustco.

A telephone message left at the home of Arthur and Jessica Lee of Cambridge was not immediately returned Friday night.

A confidential informant told police that Torres-Abadia admitted to being involved with several burglaries in the Greenwich area and bragged several times about how easy it would be to commit a bank robbery due to the lack of security in small town banks, according to Rottman.

Fortier told the FBI that when Torres-Abadia entered the bank he pointed a gun at branch manager Christine Grogan and said, "Don't move. Don't anybody move."

The other men then jumped the counter and filled duffle bags with money. Happ crawled on his hands and knees to enter the vault and emptied it, except for the "bait money," or money with die packs or sensors, according to Rottman's written affidavit filed in federal court.

Fortier allegedly told FBI agents that all the stolen money, the masks, gloves and guns were all buried in his backyard.

The New York State Police found $63,000 with some Trustco bank wrappers in the seat of a motorcycle registered to Torres-Abadia. At the home of Torres-Abadia and Fortier in Easton, N.Y., they also found 15 Trustco wrappers marked $1,000 and white masks, a navy blue sweatshirt and a receipt for clothing similar to what the burglars wore.

On Friday, Bennington Police Detective Sgt. David S. Rowland went to Torres-Abadia and Fortier's home to look at what is thought to be stolen items. Rowland said a collectable coin was positively identified as having belonged to a Bennington homeowner.

That home, which also serves as an antique business, had been burglarized in April 2004. Happ's business, A to Z Construction, did some electrical work at the home shortly before the burglary.

Rowland couldn't elaborate on what he saw but said there was a "ton of stuff." Rowland said the Vermont State Police are also looking into possible connections between the men and other local burglaries.

Anyone who has had problems after contracting with Happ and A to Z Construction is asked call the Bennington Police at 442-1030.