2 suspected in Pennsylvania bank heist while dressed as nuns

TANNERSVILLE, Pa. (AP) — Two women charged with robbing a pair of New Jersey banks are also suspected of trying to rob a bank in Pennsylvania’s Pocono Mountains while dressed as nuns.

Nineteen-year-old Swahilys Pedraza-Rodriguez, of New Haven, Connecticut, and 23-year-old Melisa Aquino Arias, of the Dominican Republic, appeared before a judge in Newark, New Jersey, on Monday. They’re charged with robbing banks in Garfield and Teaneck, New Jersey, while one or both wore head scarves.

The Garfield heist was Sept. 27. The Teaneck heist was Sunday, when the women were arrested.

Law enforcement officials say the women are also suspected in an attempted robbery of the Citizens Bank in Tannersville, Pennsylvania, on Aug. 28. Those robbers were dressed as nuns and ran away without money after an alarm was triggered.

The FBI had posted surveillance photos on Twitter from the Pennsylvania heist.

The women’s attorneys didn’t immediately return messages Tuesday.

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This story has been corrected to show the women have been charged in the New Jersey robberies and have been labeled suspects in the Pennsylvania heist but haven’t been charged in the Pennsylvania case. It also has been corrected to show that one suspect’s first name is spelled Melisa, not Melissa, and that the Garfield, New Jersey robbery occurred Sept. 27, not Sept. 28.

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