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February 20, 2021

Serial bank robber sentenced to prison for 'drug-fueled crime spree' in Northeast Philly

In addition to banks, Gerald Griffith, 47, targeted convenience stores and gas station, federal prosecutors say

Crime Bank Robberies
gerald griffith prison sentence Bill Oxford/

Gerald Griffith, 47, who robbed several banks and businesses in Northeast Philly during 2018 was sentenced to more than nine years in federal prison, prosecutors say.

A Philadelphia man who robbed multiple banks and businesses in the city in 2018 will spend more than nine years in federal prison.

Gerald Griffith, 47, of Philadelphia, pleaded guilty in December 2019 to multiple charges, including two counts of armed bank robbery for what prosecutors called a "drug-fueled crime spree" that occurred in 2018.  

During a six-month period that year, Griffith, who also used the name Jerry Porecca, robbed or attempted to rob four banks and four grocery and convenience stores in Northeast Philly.

Griffith held up two of the banks at gunpoint — a BB&T Bank on East York Street and BB&T Bank on Orthodox Street —  by displaying a long, shiny silver handgun, investigators said.

According to authorities, Griffith threatened bank tellers with the gun while telling them "not to press 'any buttons' and demanding that they give him 'hundreds'," the U.S. Eastern District of Pennsylvania's office said in the press released about Griffith's sentencing this week.

Other locations that Griffith attempted to or successfully robbed include a BB&T Bank on Roosevelt Boulevard, a ShopRite grocery store on Oxford Avenue and a Wawa and Sunoco gas station both on Richmond Street. 

Griffith was sentenced to nine years and two months in prison and three years of supervised release by U.S. District Court Judge Nitza I. Quinones Alejandro. Acting U.S. Attorney Jennifer Arbittier Williams said Philadelphians are safer as a result of Griffith heading to prison. 

"He terrorized a large swath of this city for months, affecting dozens of people who are now living with the repercussions of having been in the wrong place at the wrong time: working in or patronizing businesses that Griffith decided to target. The streets of Philadelphia are safer now that the defendant will be in prison for nearly a decade," Williams said.

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