It will not be the first time Patton Township bank robbery suspect Cecil Barnhart Sr. has faced bank robbery charges.
The 61-year-old Connellsville man was arrested at his home by Patton Township police this weekend and brought to Centre County for arraignment Saturday. He is held in Centre County Correctional Facility in lieu of $100,000, accused of robbing the Citizens Bank on North Atherton Street Wednesday and making off with about $2,900.
More than 10 years ago, Barnhart was accused by federal authorities of working with others to carry out a series of bank robberies across three states during a three-month spree in 2003. The damage: court documents indicate Barnhart and co-conspirators were responsible for sticking up seven banks in Pennsylvania, Maryland and West Virginia to the tune of almost $73,000.
Barnhart was arrested in September 2003 and pleaded guilty to one of the charges before a federal judge in the Northern District of West Virginia in February 2005. He was sentenced to just more than 11 years in prison, two years of supervised release and to pay more than $68,000 in restitution to six banks, according to federal court documents.
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Prosecutors eventually asked that his sentence be lowered because Barnhart was cooperative with investigators regarding his partners, leading to a guilty plea from one of the other participants. He was released from federal prison in February 2010.
Additional details of the alleged bank robbery were outlined in documents Patton Township police filed to charge Barnhart.
The amount of money taken from the bank had previously been withheld, but court documents allege that Barnhart took $2,900 from a teller’s desk, including a stack of “bait money” loaded with a red dye pack. A witness reported seeing the pack explode in the bank parking lot as the suspect left the building, according to police. About $75 of dye-stained cash was found in the lot afterward.
On Friday, Patton Township police got an anonymous tip that the suspect lived in Connellsville, located about 100 miles from State College, in Fayette County. Patton Township officers contacted their counterparts there, who were able to identify Barnhart from surveillance footage taken from the bank.
When he was taken into custody this weekend, police found Barnhart’s clothing and cellphone had red dye on it, consistent with that used on bank bait money, according to court documents. Another tipster also reported that Barnhart had given her money with red stains on it, police said.
Barnhart faces felony charges of bank robbery, theft and receiving stolen property in relation to the bank robbery last week. A preliminary hearing is scheduled for Wednesday.
The charges won’t stop there. Others are pending against Barnhart elsewhere in the state, according to The Associated Press.
Richland Township police in Cambria County said Barnhart is suspected of robbing a Rite Aid pharmacy there on Friday, two days after the Patton Township bank heist.