Real Name: Unknown
Aliases: No known nicknames
Wanted For: Robbery
Missing Since: June 26, 1990
Details: At around 6:45am on June 26, 1990, Armored Motor Services of America dispatched an armored truck for a delivery in Rochester, New York. It was carrying nearly $11 million in various denominations. Just after 7am, it made an unauthorized, but not uncommon, stop at a convenience store. One of the guards, "Mary Wilson", went inside, while the driver, Albert M. Ranieri, waited in the truck. According to Mary, they usually stopped there about once or twice a week. That morning, there was initially no one in the store with her. A woman came in a few minutes later. Everything seemed normal to her.
While Mary was buying doughnuts and coffee, three armed men exited a van and surrounded the truck. One of them placed the barrel of a shotgun through a porthole in the truck and pointed it at Albert. He demanded him to keep his hands on the wheel and look straight ahead. Another robber used a set of keys to open the truck's side door. Once inside, he also pointed a gun at Albert. The first robber then went back into the van.
Five minutes later, Mary returned to the truck, unaware that Albert was being held hostage. Once she entered, she was confronted by the second robber. He pushed her to the floor and then tied her hands and feet together with plastic handcuffs. Albert was forced to drive to a secluded location about one-and-a-half miles from the convenience store. The truck was followed by a grey Chevrolet van, driven by one of the robbers.
The secluded location was about 75 to 100 yards off of the road. It disappeared from sight behind a small hill. Investigators are certain that the location was chosen in advance by the robbers because several tree branches had been cut back to allow the truck to fit through the path. After arriving at the spot, a blue van arrived, driven by another accomplice. Albert was forced to crawl through the window between the front and back of the truck. He was then bound, gagged, and placed on top of Mary. The robbers used bolt cutters to break a lock on the back door of the truck. They then quickly loaded the $11 million in cash into the blue van. The money weighed about 2,000 pounds total. It included $1 million in hundreds and $8 million in twenties, along with other smaller denominations.
According to Mary and Albert, there was little dialogue between the robbers. The money was transferred with brisk efficiency. It is believed that it took between five and ten minutes to move all of the money. After the robbers loaded the money into the van, they left the scene. Mary feared that the robbers would come back and kill them. She waited until she could no longer hear their voices. She then began to try and free herself. After fifteen minutes, she was able to rip through the plastic handcuffs. Unable to free Albert from his restraints, she drove the truck to company headquarters and reported the robbery. The next day, the blue getaway van was found abandoned five miles away. $13,000 in small bills were left behind. The rest of the money was missing.
Investigators determined that (at the time) the robbery was the largest on-the-road armored car robbery in United States history. They believed that the heist may have been an inside job. A conveniently broken porthole allowed one robber to hold Albert at gunpoint. Another used a key to open the truck's side door. Both wore clothes that were nearly identical to the uniforms worn by company employees. Finally, only a limited number of people knew about the enormous amount of untraceable cash being transported by the truck that day.
Investigators have been thwarted by the lack of physical evidence in the case. However, they have received several eyewitness reports of suspicious activity in and around the area at the time of the heist. Based on these reports, they have created composite drawings of possible suspects (seen above). The first suspect (left) was seen the day before the robbery lurking near the site where the truck was emptied. He was in his mid-to-late forties (in 1992), was 5'8", and weighed around 180 pounds. The second suspect (right) was seen behind the wheel of the grey van parked next to the truck at the convenience store. He is believed to be of Puerto Rican or Italian descent. He was in his mid-thirties to mid-forties (in 1992), with dark hair and a mustache. The third suspect (center) was later seen driving the same grey van. He was in his mid-thirties (in 1992), and was between 5'10" and 6'0" with dark hair and a mustache.
Extra Notes: This case first aired on the May 6, 1992 episode.
Other armored car heists featured on the show include the Minnesota Brinks Heist and the Vallejo Armored Car Heist.
Results: Unresolved. For years, Albert and his father were considered prime suspects in the robbery. His father lived near the area where the money was placed in the getaway van. In July 1992, they were arrested and their properties were searched. The arrest occurred after an informant confessed to his involvement in the robbery. However, the two were released after it was determined that the informant was in jail at the time of the robbery. The property searches also turned up no trace of the stolen money. In June 1995, the statute of limitations ran out in the case.
In 2000, during an undercover drug investigation, Albert and his former defense attorney, Anthony Leonardo Jr., went to a hotel room to purchase cocaine. They were unaware that the room was bugged by the FBI. While meeting with the seller (an undercover FBI informant), Albert boasted that he had burned nearly $100,000 of the stolen money in a barbecue pit to avoid being arrested. That same night, he also allegedly used $100,000 of the stolen money to purchase cocaine from the informant. On May 5, 2000, forty-four-year-old nightclub owner Anthony Vaccaro was shot and killed while driving along a road. A few months later, Albert and Leonardo were arrested and charged with conspiring to distribute cocaine. Leonardo later pleaded guilty to drug and conspiracy to commit murder charges, claiming that he and Albert had plotted to kill Anthony.
In December 2002, Albert confessed to the robbery and Anthony's murder. He reportedly committed the murder because Leonardo convinced him that Anthony was stealing from his restaurant, Club Titanic. It is believed that Albert and Leonardo used the restaurant to launder some of the stolen money. Albert pleaded guilty to the murder and also to a charge of federal racketeering conspiracy in relation to the robbery. As a result of the plea deal, he was sentenced to thirty years in prison. In 2020, he asked for and was denied a compassionate release. He will not be eligible for release until 2027. Leonardo was released on parole in 2013.
Ranieri has never named his accomplices. Only $87,000 of the $11 million has ever been recovered; he claimed that he spent more $650,000 on drugs, stocks, and a limousine business. It is believed that some of the money was also laundered through various businesses.
- Rochester Car Heist on Unsolved.com
- New York holdup nets $10.8 million - June 26, 1990
- Robbers Net $10.8 Million In Armored Car Heist - June 26, 1990
- Robbers Take $10.8 Million in Armored Car Hijacking - June 27, 1990
- Thieves elude capture in $10.8 million holdup - June 27, 1990
- Suspects In Record Armored Car Robbery Arrested, Released - July 23, 1992
- Truth Deflates Alleged Robber's Claim - July 29, 1992
- Area's last biggest heist still unsolved - January 6, 1993
- 3 Years Later, Still No Arrests in Huge Armored-Car Robbery - July 20, 1993
- Statute of Limitations Expires in Truck Heist - June 27, 1995
- A look back at the unsolved case - June 26, 2000
- Drug Bust May Solve Heist Of 10 Million - January 4, 2001
- Heist clues emerge on tape - January 19, 2001
- Driver Pleads Guilty in Truck Heist - December 2, 2002
- Driver in armored truck heist pleads guilty - December 3, 2002
- Truck Driver Admits Theft of $10.8 Million - December 4, 2002
- Driver admits role in 1990 armored truck heist - December 4, 2002
- Albert Ranieri's story sounds all too familiar: Greed kills - December 5, 2002
- Driver gets 30 years in armored truck heist - April 18, 2003
- Cooperating Leonardo still awaits sentence - January 9, 2005
- Ranieri, armored car robber and killer, seeks release - April 8, 2014
- Albert Ranieri, truck driver in $10.8 million heist, seeks early release from prison - May 27, 2020
- Compassionate release denied to federal inmate - June 26, 2020