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2 charged in Wharton robbery

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Monday, Dec. 31, 2012, 10:48 p.m.

Criminal charges have been filed against two Fayette County men who police said brandished a rifle while attempting to rob a Charleroi man as he walked on Five Forks Road in Wharton on Sunday.

Robert Charles Wingrove III, 22, of Dunbar was arraigned Monday on charges of robbery, criminal conspiracy and simple assault and placed in the Fayette County jail in lieu of $50,000 bond.

A second suspect, Joseph Robert Basista, 24, of Perryopolis is wanted on the same charges.

In a criminal complaint, state police at Uniontown said the Charleroi man had an argument with his girlfriend, then went walking on Five Forks Road at 12:30 a.m. Sunday, when a female passenger in a two-door car asked whether he needed a ride.

He declined and the car pulled away, but it slowed to a crawl until he caught up with it, according to the criminal complaint. Wingrove, holding a rifle, and Basista exited and “demanded everything in his pockets,” police said.

A scuffle ensued, but Wingrove and Basista were scared off when the victim's girlfriend approached on foot on Five Forks Road and yelled at them, police said in the complaint.

Wingrove and Basista fled in the car, according to the complaint, but the victim later identified them in a photo lineup.

Police said the victim was struck several times in the face during the scuffle and suffered a cut over his right eye.

Wingrove was arraigned before on-call District Judge Randy Abraham of Masontown and placed in the county jail in lieu of $50,000 bond.

Basista is wanted on an arrest warrant.

Wingrove faces a preliminary hearing before North Union District Judge Wendy Dennis.

Liz Zemba is a staff writer for Trib Total Media.

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