The Herald, Sharon, Pa.

Local News

January 14, 2010

UPDATE: Robbing banks ‘easiest’ option, man tells police

GROVE CITY — The Meadville man accused of attempting to rob Farmers National Bank in Grove City, and robbing or trying to rob three others, told police he turned to bank robbery because he had been down on his luck.

“To walk into a bank and hand a note was the easiest way for me to get some financial structure without having to hurt anyone,” Jeffrey K. Witscher, 45, said in a statement filed in his court docket.

Witscher said he had committed “some stupid acts” and knew that what he was doing was wrong.

The gun he used in the robberies was a toy, he told the FBI. He carried it so people would take him seriously.

“I wish to apologize to all the tellers involved,” he said. “I hope they find it in their hearts to forgive me.”

U.S. District Court Magistrate Judge Susan Paradise Baxter, Erie, ordered Thursday that Witscher be detained.

Witscher was arrested Dec. 30 in Franklin after he handed a demand note to a teller at First United National Bank, but left after she said she would get someone to help him.

A bank employee followed him and he was nabbed by police.

Witscher is charged with attempting to rob the Farmer’s bank on Nov. 20, and the Franklin bank, and robbing the banks in Erie Nov. 25 and Dec. 8, getting away with $8,864.

He also admitted robbing a bank in Andover, Ohio, in mid-December of $2,300. Witscher is not charged in that robbery, and Assistant U.S. Attorney Marshall J. Piccinini, Erie, said it has not been determined how that case will be handled. Andover is in the federal Northern District of Ohio, while the other banks are all in the Western District of Pennsylvania.

Typically, a defendant who robs banks in more than one state and wishes to enter a guilty plea is allowed to plead in one state, with the facts of the robbery in another state factoring into the sentence, Piccinini said.

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