Stories written by Jo Ciavaglia, award-winning multimedia newspaper reporter at the Bucks County Courier Times in Bucks County, a suburb of Philadelphia, Pa.
For more information about Jo, check out her Linked-in profile, as well as her Facebook fan page, Instagram and Google+
Monday, May 13, 2013
Falls police: Bank robbery suspect nabbed after recognized in newspaper photo
Posted: Sunday, April 28, 2013
Something a little too familiar about the bank robbery suspect photo caught her eye.
The same thing happened two weeks later, after a second photo of a similar-looking bank robber appeared in the newspaper. Only the second time, she not only recognized the suspect’s face, but the outfit he wore, including a multicolored knit cap.
Police now believe that a 56-year-old Trenton man is responsible for at least one bank robbery in Falls and an attempted bank robbery in Morrisville over a two-week period. Last week, the U.S. Marshals took Michael Riccitiello, 56, into custody outside his Oakland Street home.
Falls police have filed an arrest warrant charging Riccitiello with the March 23 robbery of a TD bank in the 300 block of West Trenton Avenue, and the April 13 attempted robbery of a Bank of America in the first unit block of East Trenton Avenue in Morrisville.
Bank surveillance of Michael Riccitello
Falls police say that Riccitiello entered the TD bank shortly before 10 a.m. on March 23 and stood at the transaction table where he appeared to be writing out a bank slip. He then turned and walked toward a teller station.
When he reached the counter he told the woman to give him all her $50 and $100 bills, according to the affidavit.
“Don’t hit the alarm or I’ll shoot,” he said, according to police. Riccitiello did not display a weapon, police said.
The teller took an undisclosed amount of $50 and $100 bills and handed them to the suspect, and he left the bank and was last seen walking toward West Trenton Avenue. Police noted that he didn’t wear gloves and kept his hands on what appeared to be a bank slip that he was possibly reading from, according to the affidavit.
On April 13, police believe Riccitello entered a Bank of America shortly before noon where he demanded $50 and $100 bills from the teller. He behaved as if he had a gun in his pocket, police said.
But this time the teller backed away from the glass partition and signaled to her manager to push the panic button. The man ran away empty-handed.
After each robbery police released information, including surveillance photos, of the suspects to the media. Four days after the April 13 robbery attempt, Trenton police contacted Falls police to say that someone came forward with information about a possible suspect, according to the affidavit.
Falls Detective Dennis O’Connell, who headed the investigation, interviewed the person who claimed to know Riccitiello and recognized him from the photos. The woman told police she had seen Riccitiello wearing the same clothing that the suspect wore during the April 13 robbery attempt.
In the last month, she told police, Riccitiello bragged about robbing a bank with a guy named Joe.
The photos of the suspects in the Falls bank robbery and one attempted Morrisville bank robbery and booking photos of Riccitiello appear consistent, according to the affidavit.
Bank surveillance of Riccitiello on April 13
In a recorded phone call on April 19, Riccitiello made several statements regarding his involvement in two bank robberies and specifically mentions the Bank of America, according to the affidavit. He also acknowledged in the phone conversation that it was his photo in the newspaper associated with the robbery, police said.
Riccitello has waived extradition to Pennsylvania, which will allow him to be brought across the river to be arraigned on robbery and theft charges, O’Connell said.
Jo Ciavaglia: 215-949-4181; email: jciavaglia@phillyBurbs.com; Twitter: @jociavaglia;