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News Release
U.S. Department of Justice
Peter F. Neronha
United States Attorney
District of Rhode Island

March 20, 2014

Cumberland Resident Admits to Armed Bank Robberies in Cumberland and Cranston

PROVIDENCE, R.I. – Joseph G. Petrarca, 50, of Cumberland, R.I., faces  statutory penalties of up to 45 years in federal prison after pleading guilty in U.S. District Court in Providence to robbing two banks within twenty days while claiming to be armed with a gun, announced United States Attorney Peter F. Neronha, Cranston Acting Police Chief Rhode Island State Police Captain Kevin M. Barry, Cumberland Police Chief John R. Desmarais and Vincent B. Lisi, Special Agent in Charge of the Boston Field Office of the FBI.

Appearing before U.S. District Court Chief Judge William E. Smith, Petrarca  admitted to the court that he robbed a Citizens Bank branch office in Cumberland on December 26, 2012, of $1,764 and that he robbed a Washington Trust Company branch office in Cranston of $9,595 on January 15, 2013. In both instances, Petrarca handed bank tellers a threatening note claiming that he was armed with a gun.

According to information presented to the court, a note handed to a teller at the Washington Trust Company by Petrarca read in part, “I have a gun and I will shoot you.” It further warned, “Watch my hand it has a gun in it.”  The teller told police that the robber displayed the handle of a gun which he pulled out from a satchel or briefcase he was holding. Petrarca also handed a note to a teller during the robbery of the Citizens Bank branch office claiming that he was armed. However, no gun was displayed.

According to information presented to the court, on January 19, 2013, based upon information developed in their investigation, Cranston police obtained a warrant to arrest Petrarca for the Washington Trust Company robbery.  The following day, officers watched Petrarca as he drove away from his Cumberland home.  He was arrested a short time later as he exited Route 95 in Providence. 

Following Petrarca’s arrest, Cumberland police officers conducted a court authorized search of Petrarca’s home where they seized jeans, identical to those worn by in the Citizens Bank robbery, along with sweatshirts matching those worn in both bank robberies. Fingerless gloves similar to those used in the Citizens Bank robbery and a knit hat similar to that worn in the Washington Trust robbery were seized from Petrarca’s car.  A piece of red stained floor carpeting from the vehicle matched the dye used in bank dye packs. 

According to a plea agreement filed in this matter, the government will recommend to the court that Petrarca, who pleaded guilty to two counts of armed bank robbery, be sentenced to up to12 years in federal prison when he is sentenced on June 6, 2014.

The case, which was charged by retired Assistant U.S. Attorney Kenneth P. Madden, is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Gerard B. Sullivan.

The FBI assisted Cranston and Cumberland Police in the investigation of this matter.

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To assist the media and the public, a glossary of federal judicial terms and procedures is available at http://www.justice.gov/usao/justice101/

 

Contact: 401-709-5357
USARI.Media@usdoj.gov

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