A Philadelphia bank robber is facing nine years behind bars for a nearly six-month-long crime spree during which he robbed eight banks and businesses, authorities said.
Gerald Griffith, also known as “Jerry Porecca,” 47, pleaded guilty in December 2019 to two counts of bank robbery, two counts of armed bank robbery, and four counts of Hobbs Act robbery, Acting United States Attorney Jennifer Arbittier Williams said.
The charges arose from a drug-fueled crime spree between July and December 2018, during which Griffith robbed or attempted to rob four separate banks, as well as four convenience or grocery stores, all in Philadelphia, Williams said.
Griffith's series of robberies began on July 9, 2018, when he attempted to rob the BB&T Bank on Roosevelt Boulevard by threatening to blow up the bank, and then robbed the Firstrust Bank on Krewstown Road around ten minutes later, Williams said.
Griffith then moved on to armed bank robbery by holding up the BB&T Bank on East York Street on August 21, 2018, and then the BB&T Bank on Orthodox Street the very next day, Williams said.
During the 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," Williams said.
Griffith also robbed the ShopRite grocery store on Oxford Avenue earlier that summer, and between December 5 and December 8, he robbed the Wawa convenience store on Richmond Street, Williams said.
He later attempted to rob the Sonoco-A-Plus gas station also on Richmond Street and the Dollar General store on Cedar Street, Williams said.
“The complete disregard that this defendant displayed for the safety of others over such a sustained period of time is chilling,” Williams said.
“He terrorized a large swath of this city for months, affecting dozens of people who are now living with the repercussions of having been in the wrong place at the wrong time: working in or patronizing businesses that Griffith decided to target. The streets of Philadelphia are safer now that the defendant will be in prison for nearly a decade.”
The case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Sara Solow and Matthew T. Newcomer.
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