On March 1, 2013 the Wayne County District Attorney Janine Edwards and the Honesdale Borough Police Department announced the charging and arrest of Steven R. French, age 48 for the robbery of the Citizens Bank in Honesdale on February 20, 2013.
According to the Affidavit of Probable Cause, on February 20, 2013 at approximately 1:51 pm the Honesdale Borough Police Department was dispatched to a bank robbery at Citizens Savings Bank 335 Willow Ave, Honesdale Borough. Upon arrival the bank teller gave a description of the suspect to police and stated that he approached her and handed her a handwritten robbery note demanding cash and indicating he had a gun and a partner outside. The note also advised to act quickly, naturally and everyone will be safe. The suspect also handed her a cloth tote bag and said, "hurry". The teller responded by putting money in the tote bag, later determined to be $2,420.00 in cash, and gave it to the suspect. The suspect then exited the front door. The note was recovered and it was handwritten on a plain piece of 8-1/2" x 11" paper. Surveillance footage and still photographs were obtained of the suspect. The video footage revealed that the suspect removed a black glove from his hand, while at the teller line, and that he had a white, rubber glove on his hand.
Witnesses outside the bank said upon exiting the bank the suspect ran southbound on Willow Ave., crossed the road and ran onto Old Willow Ave. Surveillance video was viewed at Rent-E-Quip, a business located at 416 Old Willow Ave. Footage shows the suspect running southbound on Old Willow Ave at approximately 1:52 pm. Responding Pennsylvania State Police officers assisted with the investigation and a PSP officer located a single set of shoeprints off the left side of the roadway near 461 Old Willow Ave., approximately 200 yards south of Rent-E-Quip. Said shoeprints were in the snow and they led upward into a wooded area. Said prints were followed through the wooded area. The prints led to a side door of a business on Grandview Ave. that being a tattoo parlor at 164 Grandview Ave. The shoeprints were later photographed and measured and appear consistent with a 9-1/2 size.
Pennsylvania State Police officers entered the tattoo parlor business, which was open at the time, and made contact with a Steven R. FRENCH. A photo of him was taken and the investigation continued. Shortly thereafter FRENCH went to Cordaro's Restaurant 186 Grandview Avenue and then obtained a Maple City Taxi Cab and was taken to Dover, New Jersey. FRENCH paid $160.00 cash for the cab fare and a $20.00 tip.
On February 22, 2013 Bill French, owner of the tattoo parlor, and brother of Steven R. FRENCH, was interviewed by Honesdale PD. Bill French related that he picked up his brother from New Jersey on February 17, 2013 and brought him to his apartment, located in the rear of his tattoo shop, on Grandview Ave. Bill said FRENCH stayed with him until February 20, 2013 when FRENCH abruptly left the apartment without saying good bye to Bill and returned to New Jersey. Bill advised that he was missing a pair of black winter gloves, a pair of brownish colored sneakers-type shoes size 9-1/2, a green-colored cloth tote bag and several plastic grocery bags. Bill said he is not missing any money. Bill was asked if he keeps rubber gloves at his business and he related that he does. It was also noted that Bill had plain 8-1/2" x 11" paper in his business for his fax machine.
Page 2 of 2 - On February 22, 2013 a photograph line-up consisting of eight photographs, including a photograph of FRENCH, were shown to the bank teller. After reviewing the line-up, the teller positively identified Steven R. FRENCH as the person who robbed the bank.
On February 23, 2013 a contractor, who was working in the apartment at the tattoo parlor on February 20, 2013, was interviewed. He advised that on February 20th when he arrived for work at 7:30 am FRENCH and Bill were there. He then went into the basement to work. Between 1:00 pm and 2:00 pm he related that he came upstairs into the apartment and noticed that FRENCH was not there. He went back downstairs to work and at approximately 3:30 pm, when he was finished working, he went upstairs into the apartment. At that time he noticed FRENCH had returned and he appeared sweaty and flustered. On February 26, 2013, Honesdale PD was supplied with a copy of a handwritten letter that FRENCH wrote to his sister a few years ago. The handwriting on the letter appears very similar to the handwriting on the bank robbery note.
FRENCH was charged with Robbery, graded as a Felony 2, Terroristic Threats, graded as a Misdemeanor 1 and Simple Assault, graded as a Misdemeanor 2. The complaint was filed with Magistrate Theodore Mikulak's office on February 28, 2013 and FRENCH was apprehended by the Secaucus, New Jersey Police Department. FRENCH remains in custody in New Jersey while he awaits extradition back to Pennsylvania.
District Attorney Edwards stated that the police work done by the Honesdale Borough Police Department was exceptional and led to the positive identification and subsequent arrest of a man who terrorized the employees at Citizens Bank two weeks ago. The coordinated effort between Honesdale Borough Police and Pennsylvania State Police is remarkable and worked in favor of apprehending the defendant in a quick and calculated manner. Edwards said "I would like to thank the Honesdale Police Chief Joseph LoBasso and Detective Sergeant Sean LeStrange for their efforts in this investigation and Pennsylvania State Police Sergeant Paul Cavallaro for his diligence in tracking down the suspect."