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Police catch robbery suspects

| Saturday, Sept. 18, 2004

The two Connellsville brothers who allegedly robbed a bank on Sept. 9 and stole a car on Sept. 13 were arrested on Friday.

The Reading Police Department arrested Mark William Bell, 42, and Robert John Bell, 39, both of Connellsville, after the two were stopped by police while riding in a stolen, white Chevrolet Cavalier. The vehicle was reported stolen by a 79-year-old woman while she was doing her laundry in a Dunbar Township laundromat, according to state police at Uniontown.

At 10:50 a.m. Sept. 9, Mark Bell entered the Laurel Mall National City bank located along Route 119 in Dunbar Township, waited in line behind the other customers and handed the teller a note stating that he wanted money.

According to the affidavit of probable cause filed to support the charges, the written note had read, "I have a gun. Give me your $20s and $50s."

Mark Bell left with more than $1,800. His brother had been watching over the mall entrance during the robbery, according to the affidavit.

After leaving the bank with the money, Mark Bell went outside to a red Chevrolet Cavalier that awaited him in the parking lot.

Police learned more details on Monday, when a man named Wilbert J. Burnsworth told officers that he was forced into driving the two men.

Burnsworth told police that Mark Bell had asked him for a ride to the Laurel Mall. Once there, he waited for several minutes as the Bells got out of the car and came running back with a bag full of money.

After parking the car, the men found a ride to somewhere near Pittsburgh, where Mark Bell bought heroin, according to the affidavit.

Burnsworth told police that Mark Bell would not let him out of his sight. The affidavit states that when Burnsworth asked Mark Bell what had happened, he was told, "What• Are you stupid• We robbed the bank."

The three men eventually made it back to Fayette County. Burnsworth told police that he ran away once the Bell brothers fell asleep.

No charges have been filed against Burnsworth.

The brothers were charged with robbery, criminal conspiracy, terroristic threats, theft and receiving stolen property.

Currently, the brothers are being jailed on the outstanding robbery warrants, and the Reading Police may also be filing additional charges against the two, according to police.

Troopers from the state police at Uniontown will be bringing the brothers back to Fayette County to face arraignment on the bank robbery charges as well as the Sept. 13 theft of the white Cavalier.

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