PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — When detectives learned about a third person’s possible involvement in a bank heist on Federal Hill, it led them to a woman named Justine Fernandes.
Fernandes, 37, had been arrested by East Providence police a few months prior on drug possession charges.
It wasn’t her first brush with the law. Court records show Fernandes has a criminal record in Rhode Island dating back to 2014, mostly consisting of drug offenses.
Court documents obtained by Target 12 show police in Providence developed information that Fernandes had “come into a large amount of money” and was keeping it inside a storage unit in North Providence.
The money, police said, was just some of the $488,000 that was stolen from the vault inside Santander Bank on Atwells Avenue in the early morning hours of June 29.
Court documents say police had information that Fernandes visited the North Providence storage unit following the heist and “retrieved an unknown sum of money” that she used to buy a Toyota Camry.
Detectives were aware Fernandes had two active warrants for failing to appear in court related to forgery, counterfeiting, and drug possession charges. When police found her on Broad Street on July 7, they took her into custody and brought her in for questioning.
Fernandes identified two other suspects police had been eyeing: Stanley Palmer and Tracey Delgado. She told detectives Palmer drove her previous car, a 2001 Nissan Maxima, to the bank on the night of the heist. He later told her to scrap it.
Palmer’s girlfriend, Delgado, worked at the bank, and Fernandes told detectives that Delgado opened the vault, where Fernandes said she helped her take out bags of money.
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.
Most of the stash was inside a Sentry fire safe, while $500 in one-dollar bills was found in a smaller cash box.
Police allege Fernandes went to the storage unit 11 times between June 30 and July 5, meaning she may have been in possession of more money than what was eventually discovered. There was still about $464,000 unaccounted for from the vault, according to police.
Police also found a black ski mask, 11 ibuprofen pills in a metal cash box, Jordan sneakers, two Android phones, a laptop, and other documents inside the storage unit.
Fernandes has been in custody since July, while Delgado and Palmer have been out on bond since their arrest in Pawtucket earlier this month.
Fernandes, Delgado, and Palmer are due back in court later this fall.