2 men charged with felony attempted robbery


Two men were charged with attempted robbery Tuesday, and police indicated more charges may be coming against additional individuals.

According to the criminal complaint filed by State College police, officers were contacted at about 3 a.m. Tuesday for a reported burglary. The caller claimed he had been confronted by men wearing bandanas covering their faces.

A witness also contacted officers, police said, stating he heard noises outside. He reported seeing two individuals in dark clothing and one appeared to be holding a gun.

Officers identified the caller on arrival, who said he had been picked up by two individuals at his house, police said, then drove to a North Atherton convenience store for food. A juvenile female was reportedly with them as well.

After he was dropped off, police said, he was confronted by the two men at the rear of his house. The men reportedly wore hoodies and bandanas and were holding handguns. The men allegedly asked the caller if he had robbed anyone recently, then began screaming at him.

The caller fled the area, police said, and said the men chased him and threatened him. The female reported fleeing into the residence, where she notified a friend.

Officers searched the area and reported stopping two men wearing dark clothing with bandanas a block from the crime scene, police said. When stopped, they reportedly claimed they had BB guns in their possession, not real handguns.

The were identified as Brett M. Altamura, 20, and Benjamin F. Kelly, 18, both of State College, police said. Both were allegedly found in possession of bandanas, replica handgun-style BB guns and knives.

Altamura was interviewed, police said, and stated the incident was conceived between himself, Kelly and the two individuals driving with the caller earlier in the evening. He reportedly claimed Kelly had been “jumped” several days ago by the caller and his “crew” who had taken some money.

He claimed the caller continued to threaten Kelly and his family, so they decided to scare him, police said. The four conspired to come up with the idea and purchased the BB guns, knives and bandanas from Wal-Mart.

When the caller came back to his residence, he said he and Kelly confronted him and asked if he’d robbed anyone recently, police said, then began yelling at him. He allegedly claimed there was no plan “to kill anyone.”

After chasing the caller, he and Kelly attempted to hide in a church lawn but were captured, police said.

Both were arraigned Tuesday before District Judge Carmine Prestia, according to court documents, and charged with felony counts of attempted robbery and conspiracy to commit robbery, and misdemeanor charges of simple assault and possession of instruments of crime. Straight monetary bail was set at $100,000 each.

Both were taken to the Centre County Correctional Facility. A preliminary hearing is set for May 24.

State College police said Tuesday that the incident remains under investigation and more charges against more individuals may follow.

Jeremy Hartley: 814-231-4616, @JJHartleyNews