PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — In the days after two lead suspects were arrested for stealing nearly half a million dollars from a Federal Hill bank, investigators made a request to a district court judge to expand the scope of their search.
Court documents obtained by Target 12 show Providence police detectives asked a judge that the range of their search be expanded to six months before $488,000 was stolen from the vault inside the Santander branch at 280 Atwells Ave., and up until the arrests of Tracey Delgado and Stanley Palmer on Aug. 16.
In the early stages of the investigation into the June 29 larceny, detectives suspected the heist could be an inside job. An affidavit for a search warrant obtained by Target 12 shows security camera footage from inside the bank gave investigators early clues about the suspects’ identities.
Two people were seen entering the building, both decked out in black clothes and masks. One of them stood out to the bank’s security manager: the suspect had “similarities in height and body type” to the bank’s operations manager, Delgado. Santander Bank told Target 12 in August that Delgado was no longer affiliated with the bank.
The other suspect seen entering the bank was a woman police later identified as Justine Fernandes. The 37-year-old was nabbed in July after police raided the inside of a storage unit in North Providence.
Police said Fernandes got a cut of the nearly half a million dollars taken from the vault, and once detectives got a warrant for the storage unit, they found $24,345 inside.
A third suspect, Palmer, was later identified as Delgado’s boyfriend. Fernandes previously told police Palmer drove her car, a 2001 Nissan Maxima, to the bank on the night of the crime, and later told her to scrap it.
None of the defendants have entered a plea yet.
New court documents obtained by Target 12 show police are leaving no stone unturned in their search of Delgado and Palmer’s various cell phones. Detectives said that’s because they “had reason to believe that a crime of this nature would require extensive planning and coordination.”
Detectives asked to search phone calls, voice messaging, voicemails, FaceTimes, voicemails, texts and any other communication made over social media apps that could contain evidence of Delgado and Palmer’s “plan to discuss this breaking an entering of Santander Bank.”
“This communication is not to be limited to just these coconspirators as Tracey Delgado could have discussed the events leading up to the crime and after the crime with any acquaintances and family members,” the search warrant said.
Police also asked their search include “location information, photographs or videos that contain evidence of the crime, any/all internet activity and searches and any notes/logs that are related to the crime committed” and map applications “in search of any routes that could assist in the determining the path taken to the crime, away from the crime or assist in the location of the large sum of stolen US currency.”
Fernandes has been in custody since July, while Delgado and Palmer have been out on bond since their August arrest in Pawtucket.
On Wednesday, Palmer — dressed in a suit and tie and with his attorney David Moore –appeared in Providence Superior Court for a probation violation hearing.
The 43-year-old was on five years of probation for a 2018 drug case out of Pawtucket and a 2006 first-degree robbery and felony assault case out of Cranston. His probation on the drug case expired last month, but he will be on supervised release for the 2006 case until 2032.
The state filed the probation violations in the days after Palmer’s arrest related to the Providence heist. But on Wednesday, the attorney general’s office withdrew its violation complaints without prejudice, meaning the case can be reopened at a later date.
“I just want that stated for the record that I believe that the state wants to withdraw the violation, that it should be with prejudice, and they should be precluded from filing it in the future,” Moore said.
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Ultimately, Superior Court Judge Jeffrey Lanphear said the court would not make a ruling as to whether or not the state could renew a similar violation at a future time.
Target 12 reached out to the R.I. Attorney General’s Office for more details about the withdrawal but an email was not immediately returned.
Palmer left the courtroom with a smile. He honked his horn and waved at a reporter as he drove away from the courthouse. A female could be heard laughing in the passenger seat.
Delgado and Palmer are due back in district court for a pre-arraignment conference related to the breaking and entering, larceny, and conspiracy charges next month.