Joseph G. Petrarca, 50, of Cumberland was sentenced in U.S. District Court in Providence today to 12 years in federal prison for robbing three banks, two in Rhode Island and one in Vermont, within a span of twenty-two days, announced United States Attorney Peter F. Neronha; Cranston Acting Police Chief - Rhode Island State Police Captain Kevin M. Barry; Cumberland Police Chief John R. Desmarais; and Vincent B. Lisi, Special Agent in Charge of the Boston field office of the FBI.
In March 2014, Petrarca admitted to the court that he robbed a Citizens Bank branch office in Cumberland, R.I., on December 26, 2012, of $1,764, and that twenty days later he robbed a Washington Trust Company branch office in Cranston, R.I, of $9,595. Petrarca admitted to the court that in both instances he handed bank tellers a threatening note claiming that he was armed with a gun.
According to information presented to the court, the 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 told police that the robber 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. However, no gun was displayed.
Appearing today before U.S. District Court Judge William E. Smith today for sentencing for robbing the banks in Cumberland and Cranston, Petrarca pleaded guilty to robbing the People’s United Bank in Hartford, Vermont, on January, 17, 2013, of $6,216. According to information presented to the court, Petrarca passed a note to a teller announcing the robbery. Petrarca also made a motion under his jacket as if he were reaching for a gun. No weapon was displayed.
Petrarca was arrested by Cranston Police on January 19, 2013.
At sentencing, U.S. District Court Chief Judge William E. Smith also ordered Petrarca to serve 5 years supervised release upon completion of his prison term and to pay restitution to the banks in the amount of $17,575.
The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Gerard B. Sullivan.
The bank robberies were investigated by the Cranston, R.I., Cumberland, R.I., and Hartford, VT., Police Departments and the FBI.