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Man jailed in Westmoreland bank heist allegedly used ATV, waiting trailer for getaway

Paul Peirce
| Tuesday, Sept. 6, 2016, 9:42 p.m.

A motorist who snapped a photograph of an all-terrain vehicle as it was hurriedly loaded onto a trailer Friday in Unity is being credited with assisting state police with the quick arrest of a Fayette County man on bank robbery charges.

Gregory William Boatman, 26, of Fayette City is accused of robbing the Commercial Bank & Trust of Pa. branch in West Point Plaza along Route 130 about 3:30 p.m. Friday. Witnesses saw a man drive a red Polaris ATV around the bank just before the robbery, Trooper James Simpson reported in an affidavit of probable cause. The man pulled up to the bank and entered, wearing a full-face motorcycle helmet, police said.

He demanded money from a teller, then reached across the counter and grabbed more than $1,600 out of a drawer, police said.

He tried to get money out of other teller drawers, then ran out of the bank. He drove the ATV onto Route 130 east and turned right onto Bailey Farm Road, according to police.

A half-mile away, a woman waited in a red Jeep Wrangler towing a trailer.

Police said it appeared the couple planned to load the ATV onto the utility trailer but were interrupted when someone stopped to help the woman, thinking she had car trouble.

The witness followed both vehicles onto Pattern Shop Road, where the couple loaded the ATV onto the trailer, police said. Police said the witness took a photograph that showed the license number on the trailer.

Simpson said that with the license number, he was able the next day to identify the owner of the trailer, John Ricker, of the Fayette City area.

“Ricker related that (Boatman) had borrowed the Jeep and utility trailer the day before, stating that Boatman said he had to buy some parts for his car. Ricker stated that Boatman occasionally did odd jobs for him ... and was being allowed to stay in the basement of Ricker's Market, which Ricker ran,” Simpson wrote.

When Simpson arrived at the market after 1 p.m. Saturday, Boatman and his girlfriend were in the basement, and the Jeep and trailer were parked outside, according to the affidavit. Boatman and the woman admitted to their involvement in events surrounding the robbery, he said.

Simpson said Boatman's girlfriend, who is not identified in court documents, “did not know he was planning to rob the bank and did not know he had until much later after the act was completed.”

Because both said she did not know about the robbery, no charges were filed against the woman, police said.

Boatman was arraigned before Unity District Judge Michael Mahady on charges of robbery, theft and simple assault and is being held in the Westmoreland County Prison in lieu of $100,000 bail. His preliminary hearing is set for 10 a.m. Monday before Mahady.

Paul Peirce is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 724-850-2860 or ppeirce@tribweb.com.

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