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Suspect in Squirrel Hill bank robberies arrested

| Tuesday, Nov. 20, 2012, 1:46 p.m.
Joseph Francis Guiney Jr. is accused of being a serial bank robber responsible for four bank robberies in Squirrel Hill. Submitted

The U.S. Marshals Service and Pittsburgh police on Tuesday arrested a Greenfield man suspected of robbing three Squirrel Hill banks this year, the most recent while it was under police surveillance.

Police charged Joseph Francis Guiney Jr., 33, with the March 27 robbery of the First National Bank, the Oct. 31 robbery of First Niagara Bank and the Nov. 9 and Nov. 17 robberies of Citizens Bank. All of the banks are on Murray Avenue in Squirrel Hill.

Police found Guiney at a home on Milltown Road in Penn Hills, where he tried to hide in a bedroom, said Pittsburgh police Lt. Kevin Kraus. Officers found money inside the home that was tainted by the dye believed to be from packs that exploded following the robberies, Kraus said. Guiney was awaiting his preliminary hearing at the Allegheny County Jail Tuesday evening.

“We believe a drug addiction is what led him to rob banks,” Kraus said. “Certainly, drug addiction is a motive for a variety of crimes.”

Anonymous tips helped lead authorities to Guiney after the Oct. 31 robbery, and witnesses identified him from a photo array, police said. Additional tips led police to the Milltown Road home, Kraus said.

Officers were watching the Citizens Bank and others in the area at about 11:40 a.m. on Saturday, but Guiney managed to elude the surveillance and hold up the bank anyway.

Kraus said he felt the surveillance detail was “adequate,” adding that it was “just a matter of good luck on (Guiney's) side.”

Police robbery squad Sgt. Lavonnie Bickerstaff would not say how many officers were patrolling the neighborhood at the time, whether they were on foot or in marked or unmarked cars.

“Sometimes things happen ... but in the end we got him,” Pittsburgh police spokeswoman Diane Richard said.

Police are trying to determine why there was a six-month gap between the March robbery and October robbery. They are looking into whether he should be a suspect in bank robberies outside the area during that time, Kraus said.

Guiney's brother, Brian J. Guiney, 40, pleaded guilty in July 2007 to three counts of bank robbery for robbing the Parkvale Savings and National City banks on Murray Avenue in Squirrel Hill and the First Commonwealth Bank in Munhall.

U.S. District Judge Joy Flowers Conti sentenced him in October 2007 to seven years and eight months in prison and three years of probation. He is incarcerated at a federal prison in Talladega, Ala.

Adam Brandolph is a staff writer for Trib Total Media.

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