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Man Admits Robbing Cranston Bank in Court

Joseph G. Petrarca admitted robbing two banks, including the Washington Trust on Oaklawn Avenue in Cranston. He'll be sentenced in June.

Joseph G. Petrarca, 50, of Cumberland, pleaded guilty to charges of armed robbery in U.S. District Court in Providence this morning.

U.S. Attorney Peter F. Neronha said in a statement that Petrarca, who admitted robbing the Washington Trust on Oaklawn Avenue in January of 2013, could face up to 12 years in federal prison. 

He will be sentenced on June 6.

Appearing before U.S. District Court Chief Judge William E. Smith, Petrarca admitted to the court that he also robbed a Citizens Bank branch office in Cumberland the day after Christmas in 2012 as well as the Cranston bank a few weeks later. 

Petrarca reportedly made off with $9,595 in the Cranston robbery.

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 said that the Petrarca 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, but didn't display a gun in that crime.

Cranston police eventually identified Petrarca as a suspect and got a warrant on Jan. 19. Meanwhile, Cumberland police searched his house and found a pair of jeans exactly like the ones he wore in one robbery as well as a sweatshirt worn in both robberies.

Other evidence included a knit hat, fingerless gloves, a red stain on the carpet of his car that matched the dye used in bank dye packs, among other evidence.

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