Philadelphia man pleads guilty to 8 counts of robbery

Prosecutors: He targeted 4 banks, 2 convenience stores, a supermarket and a dollar store.

PHILADELPHIA — Gerald Griffith pleaded guilty in federal court to charges from a six-month robbery spree, according to First Assistant U.S. Attorney Jennifer Arbittier Williams.

She announced Griffith, 47 and also known as “Jerry Porecca,” pleaded guilty

“to two counts of bank robbery, two counts of armed bank robbery, and four counts of Hobbs Act robbery arising from his unrelenting crime spree between July and December 2018.  He was charged by Indictment in April 2019.”

According to the U.S. Justice Department, The Hobbs Act

“prohibits actual or attempted robbery or extortion affecting interstate or foreign commerce. … The statute is frequently used in connection with cases involving public corruption, commercial disputes, violent criminals and street gangs, and corruption directed at members of labor unions.”

Aug. 2018, from FBI/PPD Violent Crimes Task Force

The feds described the crimes.

“For a period of about six months, the defendant robbed or attempted to rob four separate banks — two while brandishing what appeared to be a gun — as well as a ShopRite supermarket, a Wawa convenience store, a Sunoco A-Plus gas station, and a Dollar General retail store, all in Northeast Philadelphia.

“Griffith’s series of robberies began on July 9, 2018, when he attempted to rob the BB&T Bank at 6633 Roosevelt Boulevard by threatening to blow up the bank, and then approximately ten minutes later robbed the Firstrust Bank at 9303 Krewstown Road, again by verbal threat.

“About one month later, Griffith moved on to armed bank robbery, holding up the Fishtown-area BB&T Bank at 2330 East York St. on August 21, and then the BB&T Bank located at 2601 Orthodox St. the very next day. At these 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.’

“In addition, Griffith robbed the Shop Rite at 6301 Oxford Ave. earlier that summer, and between Dec. 5 and Dec. 8, he robbed the Wawa at 3200 Richmond St., and then attempted to rob the Sunoco A-Plus at 3200 Richmond St. and the Dollar General at 3501 Cedar St.”

GUILTY: Gerald Griffith, from FBI/PPD Violent Crimes Task Force

First Assistant U.S. Attorney Williams said,

“He terrorized this neighborhood for months, affecting dozens of people who are now living with the repercussions of having been targeted by him. The employees of these banks and stores were simply doing their jobs when the defendant threatened them with violence and then an actual weapon. The streets of Philadelphia are safer now that Griffith has been convicted and is facing significant prison time.”

Authorities add, this case was part of Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN), bringing together all levels of law enforcement and communities to reduce violent crime and make neighborhoods safer.

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