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September 13, 2013

Robbery suspect tells police he was distraught

JOHNSTOWN, Pa. — A remorseful robber contemplated suicide before holding up two banks because he needed money to feed his children, according to a statement to police.

“I was desperate,” Jeffrey Pellegrino told police, according to a criminal complaint. “I thought about killing myself …. I had a hose hooked up to my exhaust but I just could not do it.”

Pellegrino, 45, of Edensburg, is charged with aggravated assault and theft after police say he entered the S&T Bank in the tiny borough of Armagh about 10:30 a.m. Tuesday, pulled a knife and demanded money. Tellers placed “bait” money and a dye pack in a bag. Police later found the bag and the money outside the bank.

State police said a man fitting the description of the Armagh bandit robbed First National Bank in Cresson, about 20 miles away, the following day. They tracked Pellegrino from a license plate on a black Nissan seen fleeing the scene.

In an interview Thursday. Pellegrino told state police he targeted the Armagh bank because it was small, according to a criminal complaint.

“I felt so bad. The one lady was crying,” he was reported as saying. “I told her that I wouldn’t hurt her. I even cried on the way home.”

He has been charged with the Armagh robbery and is expected to be charged in the Cresson robbery, as well.

Patrick Buchnowski reports for the The Tribune-Democrat in Johnstown, Pa.

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