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January 29, 2014

Bank robbery suspect facing more charges

NEW CASTLE — City Police Chief Bobby Salem said bank robbery investigators had received multiple calls from Richard J. Bruni Sr.’s family.

Those calls tipped them off to Bruni’s identity as the alleged robber shown in photos online and in the newspaper from three recent bank robberies in Lawrence County.

From those calls and other information, the police built an investigation that led them to Bruni’s door, Salem said.

New Castle police arrested the 37-year-old North Hill resident Friday and charged him with Thursday’s robbery of Huntington Bank downtown.

On Monday, they charged Bruni, of 432 Boyles Ave., with last month’s robbery of the GNC Federal Credit Union, also downtown.

Neshannock police said Bruni is a suspect in the Jan. 7 robbery of the FirstMerit Bank branch in the township, adding they expect to file charges this week.

Bruni allegedly walked into the GNC Credit Union at 201 S. Jefferson St. around 9:30 a.m. Dec. 26 wearing gloves and a camouflage jacket, approached a teller and told her, “Don’t press nothing.”

He allegedly presented a hand-written note that said, “I have a gun give me your top drawer money.” The teller said he kept his left hand in his pocket and she gave him an estimated $2,560 from the drawer.

A teller in the next window told police she became suspicious when she saw him reach under the partition and take money and she pressed her panic alarm.

Police reviewed video of the incident with the credit union manager as well as surveillance videos from the Hometown Pharmacy next door and Cilli Central Station Building across the street.

Among the information they received from tips was that Bruni had been living in Pittsburgh and moved to New Castle, according to court records.

Police said his description and the circumstances of the robbery were similar to those described to Neshannock police of the FirstMerit robbery.

The police said tellers at both the bank and the credit union had picked Bruni from a photo lineup.

After the Huntington Bank robbery, police went to Bruni’s house, where his girlfriend told them he had gone to Pittsburgh to do roofing work, but they questioned her about why he would be working on a roof in 7-degree weather.

Salem said Tuesday the police cannot prove the girlfriend had knowledge that Bruni was the man robbing the banks, so she is not facing charges right now.

“If it comes to our attention that she knew, that would be conspiracy and she would definitely be charged,” he said.

In the GNC case, Bruni is charged with robbery with threat of immediate serious injury, robbery demanding money from a financial institution, terroristic threats, theft and receiving stolen property.

He was arraigned Monday before District Judge Melissa A. Amodie, who set his bond at $100,000.

Bruni was jailed Friday on $100,000 bond in connection with the Huntington Bank robbery. A hearing in that case is set for tomorrow. His preliminary hearing in the credit union case in Tuesday.

(Email: dwachter@ncnewsonline.com)

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