PROSPECT PARK — A Passaic County man is accused of setting off an explosive to bust open an ATM at a bank nearly two years ago. 

Nicolas Torres, 41, of Passaic is charged with using an explosive to damage real property used in interstate commerce and possession of an unregistered firearm for having the explosive, according to a criminal complaint.

Torres appeared in Newark federal court on Thursday, U.S. Attorney Philip Sellinger said. A judge ordered that he remain held pending trial.

An FBI investigation found that Torres went to a fireworks store in East Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania on July 4, 2022.

Nicolas Torres in 2022, left, and 2020. (Essex County Jail)
Nicolas Torres in 2022, left, and 2020. (Essex County Jail)

Torres bought $1,000 worth of fireworks, according to the complaint. He provided his identification and email address to the seller, authorities said.

Hours later, an explosion went off in Prospect Park near the Chase Bank on North 6th Street. A police officer nearby heard the boom around 12:10 a.m. early on the morning of July 5, 2022, according to authorities.

The officer found the lower part of an ATM had been blown open. Investigators found gunpowder residue at the scene.

According to the complaint, Torres was seen on surveillance video placing the explosive before leaving in a getaway car.

Chase Bank in Prospect Park (Google Maps)
Chase Bank in Prospect Park (Google Maps)

The FBI investigation found that the explosive was an improvised explosive device, or IED, made magnalium. The explosive fuel, which is made out of aluminum and magnesium, is used in some fireworks.

Investigators also analyzed his cell phone and found he was near the ATM on five separate occasions in the weeks leading up to the explosion, the complaint said.

Ex-con has a criminal history going back years

Jail records for Bergen County and Essex County show Torres has a history of arrests back to 2006.

He was charged with a series of commercial break-ins, the Daily Voice reported. In 2022 alone, he was reportedly wanted by police in more than a dozen municipalities throughout four counties.

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