Philadelphia Man Pleads Guilty to Armed Robbery and Other Charges
PHILADELPHIA – First Assistant United States Attorney Jennifer Arbittier Williams announced that Gerald Griffith, also known as “Jerry Porecca,” 47, of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, entered a plea of guilty before United States District Court Judge Nitza I. Quinones Alejandro, to two counts of bank robbery, two counts of armed bank robbery, and four counts of Hobbs Act robbery arising from his unrelenting crime spree between July and December 2018. He was charged by Indictment in April 2019.
For a period of about six months, the defendant robbed or attempted to rob four separate banks—two while brandishing what appeared to be a gun—as well as a Shop Rite supermarket, a Wawa convenience store, a Sonoco A-Plus gas station, and a Dollar General retail store, all in Northeast Philadelphia.
Griffith’s series of robberies began on July 9, 2018, when he attempted to rob the BB&T Bank at 6633 Roosevelt Boulevard by threatening to blow up the bank, and then approximately ten minutes later robbed the Firstrust Bank at 9303 Krewstown Road, again by verbal threat. About one month later, Griffith moved on to armed bank robbery, holding up the Fishtown-area BB&T Bank at 2330 East York Street on August 21, and then the BB&T Bank located at 2601 Orthodox Street the very next day. At these last two bank robberies, Griffith brandished what the bank tellers described as a long, shiny silver handgun, threatening them not to press “any buttons” and demanding that they give him “hundreds.”
In addition, Griffith robbed the Shop Rite at 6301 Oxford Avenue earlier that summer, and between December 5 and December 8, he robbed the Wawa at 3200 Richmond Street, and then attempted to rob the Sonoco-A-Plus at 3200 Richmond Street and the Dollar General at 3501 Cedar Street.
“The complete disregard that Griffith displayed for the safety of others over such a sustained period of time is appalling,” said First Assistant U.S. Attorney Williams. “He terrorized this neighborhood for months, affecting dozens of people who are now living with the repercussions of having been targeted by him. The employees of these banks and stores were simply doing their jobs when the defendant threatened them with violence and then an actual weapon. The streets of Philadelphia are safer now that Griffith has been convicted and is facing significant prison time.”
This case is part of Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN), a program bringing together all levels of law enforcement and the communities they serve to reduce violent crime and make our neighborhoods safer for everyone. The Department of Justice reinvigorated PSN in 2017 as part of the Department’s renewed focus on targeting violent criminals, directing all U.S. Attorney’s Offices to work in partnership with federal, state, local, and tribal law enforcement and the local community to develop effective, locally-based strategies to reduce violent crime.
The case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Matthew Newcomer and Sara Solow.