Union Township bank robbery defendant pleads guilty

One of two men charged in connection with the robbery of a Union Township bank last summer has pleaded guilty, acting Union County Prosecutor Grace H. Park announced Tuesday.

Thomas McDaniels, 43, of Elizabeth entered the guilty plea to one count of first-degree robbery late Monday before state Superior Court Judge Scott J. Moynihan. As a result, McDaniels is expected to be sentenced to 15 years in state prison, with at least 85 percent of that term to be served before the possibility of parole.

The date was July 15, 2013 when McDaniels entered the PNC Bank branch on Morris Avenue in Union and handed a note to a branch employee demanding that a quantity of cash be placed in a bag and given to him, according to Union County Assistant Prosecutor David Zeitzoff, who prosecuted the case. McDaniels made off with more than $3,000 in cash and then ran to a waiting vehicle, Zeitzoff said.

Witnesses described the vehicle as a red Hyundai, and a car matching that description was pulled over by Union Township police a short time after the robbery. Officers heard noises coming from the trunk of the vehicle and found McDaniels and the robbery proceeds inside.

The driver of the vehicle was also arrested and is awaiting trial. Sentencing for McDaniels has been scheduled for May 9.