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New Stanton ATM robber reaches plea deal | TribLIVE.com
Westmoreland

New Stanton ATM robber reaches plea deal

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James M. Stonick, 26, of Herminie will plead guilty to knife-point robberies at an ATM near New Stanton.

A Herminie heroin addict, who police said got cash by robbing people at knifepoint at a drive-through ATM near New Stanton three times last month, has agreed to plead guilty to the holdups.

James Marshall Stonick, 26, reached a plea agreement Wednesday before East Huntingdon District Judge Charles Moore Jr.

He was arrested Oct. 28 after police received a tip about his identity through a surveillance photo distributed to the media.

Under the deal, Stonick agreed to admit guilt to the three robberies in exchange for a prison sentence of three to 10 years.

After completion of his first year in prison, Stonick will be eligible for a military-style boot camp program, according to defense attorney Chris Huffman. After he completes boot camp, he will be eligible for parole.

The plea agreement, reached with Assistant District Attorney Barbara Jollie, gives Stonick an opportunity to move on with his life after serving his time, Huffman said.

“It will give the victims some peace that this has been resolved,” he added.

A Westmoreland County judge must accept the plea agreement before it can take effect.

Stonick committed the crimes to fund his heroin habit, Huffman said.

“This is what happens when they get desperate,” he said.

Stonick waited for his victims in the early-morning darkness at the First Commonwealth branch, police said.

In response to the robberies, the bank posted a guard after hours at the bank branch and closed the drive-through ATM until police made an arrest. Stonick told reporters after his arrest that he committed one of the ATM holdups, but he denied involvement in the other two — at 12:30 a.m. Oct. 1 and 5:28 a.m. Oct. 8.

“We’re going to resolve all three of them with this plea agreement,” Huffman said.

Cash was taken from the victims in the first two robberies.

In the Oct. 26 robbery, video showed the suspect wearing a West Virginia sweatshirt and suddenly appearing behind a woman’s car. He leaned into the open car door and repeatedly made a stabbing motion with a knife.

The woman quickly accelerated and pulled away, leaving her bank card behind.

After media showed the surveillance footage, employees at a New Stanton convenience store identified Stonick as an employee of a borough bar, according to a police affidavit.

Stonick often stayed at Huntingdon Village with his girlfriend, Emily Fischl, an employee at the bar told police.

A man fled from Fischl’s building into woods as police approached, according to the affidavit.

Authorities searched Fischl’s apartment and retrieved a blue West Virginia hooded sweatshirt and a clear plastic bag with clothing inside.

In a backpack in the apartment, investigators found a bank card belonging to the last ATM victim, a large knife matching the description of the one used in the last robbery and a black scarf that “appeared to be tied into a mask.”

Police took Stonick into custody in the woods. In the barracks, Stonick admitted involvement in the last ATM robbery, authorities said.

“Stonick advised the victim drove way, and he returned to the ATM and attempted to withdraw cash. He advised he eventually hit the cancel button, removed the victim’s card from the ATM, placed it into his back pocket and left the scene,” police said.

Stonick is scheduled to appear in county court Dec. 30.

Bob Stiles is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-836-6622 or [email protected].

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