Indiana, PA - Indiana County

Police arrest robbery suspect

by on March 16, 2014 2:00 AM

An Indiana man with an extensive police and court record, including a conviction for bank robbery, has been arrested and charged with robbing a bank office Wednesday morning in Indiana’s West End.

Byron Bruce Ferrier, 60, was taken into custody at an unspecified establishment along the 500 block of Philadelphia Street at 8:30 p.m. Friday, according to a news release issued late Saturday afternoon by Indiana Borough police.

Investigators report Ferrier first was taken to the police station for questioning, then was charged with holding up the First Commonwealth Bank office at 1164 Philadelphia St.

Police reported that several tips pointed them to the suspect, and that officers continue to follow other leads on the chance that they may identify other suspects who planned or assisted in the robbery.

Bank workers told police the robber entered the front door, walked behind the counter in a threatening manner, and demanded money. He grabbed $10 and $20 bills when a teller opened a drawer, then fled on foot along the Buffalo & Pittsburgh Railroad tracks adjacent to the bank.

In a news release, police reported Ferrier is being held in Indiana County Jail with bond set at $75,000.

Online court records show Ferrier has been convicted in cases dating to 1979.

He was sentenced in January 1998 to serve six to 12 years in prison for his guilty plea to charges for a robbery of the National Bank of the Commonwealth branch office in Cherry Tree on July 18, 1997.

Troopers captured Ferrier, then 43, about one hour after the holdup at the NBOC (the predecessor of First Commonwealth Bank) office.

Police halted Ferrier about 20 miles away on Tanoma Road, just east of Route 119 in Rayne Township, driving a car matching the description of a vehicle used by the robber. Investigators found a large amount of cash in the car.

Ferrier pleaded guilty to a first-degree felony count of robbery, and misdemeanor counts of simple assault and making terroristic threats.

The time Ferrier served in prison is unclear in court records, but his next run-in with the law was Aug. 6, 2009, when Indiana Borough police reported he was found intoxicated in a vehicle in a convenience store parking lot and was cited with a summary count of public drunkenness.

In all, he was arrested 11 times and pleaded guilty in six incidents of public intoxication, two cases of disorderly conduct and another incident involving two counts of disorderly conduct and one count of public drunkenness between 2009 and 2013.

Ferrier pleaded guilty to driving under the influence and was sentenced in 2010 to serve six months of probation.

He currently is scheduled to appear March 25 in Indiana County Common Pleas Court for formal arraignment on misdemeanor charges of theft and access device fraud.

State police in Indiana charged that Ferrier found a credit card belonging to George Valenti, of Maple Street, Indiana, and charged $2,207.03 of purchases between Sept. 8 and Oct. 13 at several stores in the Indiana area.

Troopers filed charges against Ferrier, and he waived his right to preliminary hearing Feb. 10 in Homer City District Court.

Before Ferrier’s 1997 bank robbery case, he had pleaded guilty in Indiana County Court to two counts of retail theft, and one count each of defiant trespass and possession of a small amount of marijuana in 1994 and 1995.

He pleaded guilty to disorderly conduct and possession of drug paraphernalia in Mercer County in 1994, and was given credit for 59 days served in jail.

Court records show Ferrier also was convicted of two counts of theft in 1990 and three counts of retail theft in 1980 and 1981 in Indiana County.

Ferrier also was charged with robbery in Westmoreland County in 1982. The online records don’t indicate how the case was adjudicated, but show that he made payments for costs of prosecution in the case.

Chauncey Ross is the Gazette’s fixture at Indiana Area and Homer-Center school board meetings, has been seen with pen and notepad in area police stations and courts, and is something of an Open Records Act and Sunshine Law advocate. He also manages the Gazette’s websites and answers your questions about them.
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