According to PA State Police, a man arrested for robbing a bank in Gouldsboro, Lehigh Township, September 13, may be the same actor who committed 12 other bank robberies in northeast Pennsylvania in the last two years.
State Police arrested William R. Fischer, age 45, of Dunmore, accused of an armed robbery that morning at Peoples Security Bank & Trust in Gouldsboro. This is in the far southwestern corner of Wayne County.
Janine Edwards, Wayne County District Attorney, made the announcement.
A criminal complaint was filed early Wednesday morning against Fischer, alleging robbery and various other crimes.
At about 10:05 a.m. a white male wearing a red hooded sweatshirt, blue jeans and a gray baseball cap entered Peoples Security Bank, 534 Main St., Gouldsboro.
According to the Affidavit of Probable Cause, this male approached the counter and displayed a pistol. A bank employee reported that this male was wearing a hoodie with the hood pulled over a baseball cap, a pair of black gloves and had a black gun when he entered the bank and approached her window.
She related that man pointed a gun at her and told he wanted all the money in reserve drawers and from the drive through.
She also related the actor then pointed the gun at another employee and told her “no alarms”. In all, the affidavit states that he pointed his weapons at four female employees.
The bank employee related that she then gave the actor all the money in her first and second drawer, along with “bait money.”
She related the actor then told the employee to get on the floor and proceeded on to the second teller at the bank and told her that he wanted all the money in her drawers, also.
The employee related that the second teller gave the actor all the money in her drawer and the actor told her to get on the ground, too, which they did.
It is alleged that the robbery resulted in $16,790.00 being taken from the People’s Security Bank in Gouldsboro. Bank employees gave a description of the actor and the car he got in when he left the bank.
Trooper saw suspect car
A PSP Blooming Grove Station Patrol Unit was responding to the bank when he observed a red Hyundai Elantra pass him on SR 507, heading in a northern direction.
Said car matched the description given by the bank employees of the car used by the actor who had just robbed them. The officer contacted another PSP officer in the vicinity and notified him.
PSP patrol subsequently located the suspect car on SR 507 heading north. He then observed the red Hyundai Elantra pull into the PNC Bank at the corner of SR 507 and SR 447 and approach the ATM.
The red Hyundai Elantra then left the bank parking lot, turning south onto SR 507. At 10:22 a.m. the patrol officer performed a traffic stop on the vehicle based on it matching the description of the vehicle involved in the robbery earlier at the People’s Security Bank.
The PSP patrol officer approached the vehicle and made contact with the operator, William R. Fischer, who identified himself by his PA driver’s license and his Lackawanna County Firearms Permit.
Fischer’s driver’s license indicated he resided in Dunmore. Fischer also produced a rental agreement, which did not appear to be for the red Hyundai Elantra.
The officer stated that while speaking with Fischer, he (Fischer) related he had loaded firearms in the trunk of the vehicle. Fischer told the officer that he had just visited his mother in Gouldsboro and was now on his way to a firing range in Henryville, PA. Fischer was then detained and the vehicle towed to PSP Honesdale.
While being interviewed by State Police and a Scranton police officer at the Dunmore station of PSP, Fischer said he had rented the car because his own was being repaired. He also said that he had not been employed since October 2015 and had been attempting to start his own consulting business.
A search of the defendant’s residence in Dunmore located a box of black baklava-style face and head coverings in the basement, at a work area Fischer utilizes. The box was partially depleted and the remaining baklavas were still folded as they had not been used.
String of bank robberies
Since December of 2015 numerous law enforcement agencies in Lackawanna, Wayne, Monroe and Luzerne Counties have been investigating 12 bank robberies, all of which appear to be committed by the same actor using the same modus operandi, according to PA State Police.
During those robberies the actor was observed to be wearing similar clothing combinations, which varied in color. Furthermore, due to the bulkiness and shape of the actor’s torso and clothing it was believed he was wearing a ballistic vest.
It is also believed due to the actor's proficiency committing the robberies that he conducted surveillance and counter surveillance on the banks prior to robbing them.
During the day on September 13, various law enforcement officers worked to investigate this case. An information check was done by PSP and it was discovered that Fischer rented a vehicle on 08/07/17 at 9:35 a.m. from Enterprise Rental at 1231 Wyoming Avenue Scranton. The vehicle he rented was a Dodge Charger, which was found to be grey in color. This vehicle matches the description of the suspect vehicle utilized in a bank robbery of First National Bank on SR 611 in Pocono Township, Monroe County which occurred on the same date, 08/07/17, at 12:11 p.m.
The PSP Bureau of Gaming Enforcement at Mohegan Sun Pocono Downs in Wilkes Barre, was also contacted and it was discovered that on 08/07/17 Fischer deposited cash into slot machines at the Mohegan Sun Pocono casino without gambling and then obtained approximately $2,000.00 worth of vouchers.
Among the list of locations hit was the NBT Bank of Newfoundland, which was robbed twice, on Dec. 22, 2015 and Feb. 11, 2016.
Fischer was arraigned today by Magistrate Bonnie Carney and bail was set at $500,000.00.
Fischer is next due in court for a Central Court appearance on October 27, 2017 at 9 a.m. at the Wayne County Courthouse, Honesdale.
DA Edwards stated that “the hard work of the Pennsylvania State Police and FBI, along with various other law enforcement agencies, resulted in the quick outcome of an arrest of someone who has been charged with terrorizing bank employees for almost two years and stealing tens of thousands of dollars.”
Serial bank robberies
The bank heists in northeast Pennsylvania have included:
Dec. 1, 2015 NBT Bank, Roaring Brook Twp., Lackawanna County
Dec. 22, 2015 NBT Bank, Newfoundland, Wayne County
Jan. 13, 2016 Community Bank, Scranton
Feb. 4, 2016 NBT Bank, Scranton
Feb. 11, 2016 NBT Bank, Newfoundland, Wayne County
March 21, 2016 First Keystone Bank, Stroudsburg
April 7, 2016 Community Bank, Scranton
Oct. 4, 2016 First National Bank, Pocono Twp., Monroe County
Oct. 27, 2016 First Keystone Bank, Stroudsburg
Dec. 15, 2016 NBT Bank, Archbald Borough.