ALBUQUERQUE — Jason Smeltzer, 40, of Albuquerque, appeared March 25 in federal court for a preliminary and detention hearing where he was charged with robbing four local banks.
Smeltzer will be conditionally released to La Pasada Halfway House pending trial, which has not been scheduled.
According to a criminal complaint, from Jan. 20 to Feb. 23, Smeltzer allegedly robbed four Albuquerque banks, one of which was robbed twice for a total of five robberies. Each time, Smeltzer allegedly entered the bank and presented a similar demand note to a teller. Once the tellers complied, Smeltzer allegedly fled on foot. Following the fourth robbery, the teller allegedly observed Smeltzer entering a vehicle parked nearby.
Jan. 21, the FBI received a tip through the National Threat Operation Center identifying Smeltzer as a possible suspect. Feb. 23, robbery detectives from the Albuquerque Police Department initiated a traffic stop of Smeltzer’s vehicle and FBI agents responded to the scene. Smeltzer was taken into custody.
“Bank robbery is one of several crimes that will place you in the path of our federal task force officers and eventually in federal court,” said Fred J. Federici, United States Attorney for the District of New Mexico. “We are all affected by these crimes, and the U.S. Attorney’s Office is prepared to aggressively prosecute.”
“The FBI has been catching bank robbers for almost a century, and we bring that extensive experience to bear on every one of these crimes we investigate,” said Special Agent in Charge Raul Bujanda, of the FBI Albuquerque Field Office. “Be assured that if you rob a bank in New Mexico, the FBI, U.S. Attorney’s Office, and our law enforcement partners will spare no resource in bringing you to justice. We want to thank the public for their help, which should make anyone think twice before committing this type of crime.”
A complaint is only an allegation. A defendant is considered innocent unless and until proven guilty. If convicted, Smeltzer faces up to 20 years in prison.
The FBI Albuquerque Violent Crimes and Gangs Task Force investigated this case. Assistant United States Attorney Presiliano Torrez is prosecuting the case.