ALBUQUERQUE ― Jennifer Rael, 39, of Albuquerque, made her initial appearance before U.S. Magistrate Judge Kirtan Khalsa in federal court this morning on a criminal complaint charging her with aiding and abetting armed bank robbery, and using a firearm in furtherance of a crime of violence.
Rael remains in custody pending a preliminary hearing and a detention hearing, both of which are scheduled for today.
The criminal complaint charges Rael with aiding and abetting the armed robbery of the Western Commerce Bank located at 1910 Wyoming Blvd. NW in Albuquerque, June 11, 2018. According to the complaint, a female and a male were involved in the robbery and both were observed getting into a white U-Haul van. Witnesses who viewed photographs from the bank surveillance video of the robbery identified Rael and Richard Rivera as the individuals involved in the robbery.
According to the complaint, FBI investigation revealed that Rael allegedly rented a van, which appears similar to the van on the bank surveillance video, June 8, 2018, for 24-hours but failed to return it. When the van was not returned, U-Haul reported the van stolen.
The complaint alleges that June 16, 2018, the FBI received information that a Verizon store had been robbed. The Albuquerque Police Department located Rael and Rivera in the van and pursued them to a grocery store where Rivera was shot and killed and Rael was arrested.
If convicted on the armed bank robbery charge, Rael faces a statutory maximum penalty of 25 years of imprisonment. If convicted on the firearms charge, Rael faces a mandatory minimum of five years of imprisonment that must be served consecutive to any sentence imposed on the armed bank robbery charge. Charges in criminal complaints are merely accusations and defendants are presumed innocent unless found guilty in a court of law.
This case was investigated by the Albuquerque office of the FBI with assistance from the Albuquerque Police Department. Assistant U.S. Attorney Jack E. Burkhead is prosecuting the case.