Authorities search for suspect in Hancock County bank robbery

NEW CUMBERLAND-Less than a week after the last New Cumberland bank robber was sentenced, the same bank was hit again.

Hancock County authorities are searching for a suspect in Tuesday’s robbery of the New Cumberland branch of Hancock County Savings Bank. The robbery was reported shortly before noon at the branch office, 1200 Ridge Ave., New Cumberland.

Officers with the New Cumberland Police Department and the Hancock County Sheriff’s Department are conducting a joint investigation.

New Cumberland Police Chief Lester Skinner said the robber did not show a weapon but did have a note.

“He used a note to communicate and spoke to them briefly and told them to give him (money),” Skinner said.

Hancock County Sheriff Ralph Fletcher said the suspect, described as a white male in his mid-20s to early-40s, entered the bank while no customers were inside and presented a note to a cashier. He fled the scene on foot and got into a black, four-door Chevrolet Cavalier, or something similar, with a loud exhaust, Fletcher said.

The suspect, described as being 5 feet 7 inches to 6 feet tall and wearing a dark baseball cap, a yellow T-shirt over a black hoodie, jeans and gloves, was last seen headed south on Blackhorse Road, where police believe he entered state Route 2 near the S-turn in south New Cumberland, Fletcher said.

“We’ve sent out the information on the individual and vehicle, as well as surveillance footage to local (law enforcement) agencies,” he said.

Hancock County Savings Bank Vice President of Human Resources Barbara Matey said no employees or customers were harmed. The branch stayed closed for the rest of the day. “The police will continue their investigation,” she said, “and will be interviewing our employees.”

This is the second robbery at the bank in four-and-a-half years.

The New Cumberland branch, which sits across the street from the Hancock County Prosecutor’s Office, was robbed in August 2008 by a man who then fled to Texas and joined the military.

Robert Solerno, 25, formerly of New Cumberland, pleaded guilty to a bank robbery charge last week in Hancock County Circuit Court-16 months after being returned to West Virginia from Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, Texas.

Solerno, who was 19 at the time of the 2008 robbery, was living in Steubenville under house arrest with GPS monitoring prior to his sentencing, Hancock County Prosecutor Jim Davis said.

Solerno entered a plea before former West Virginia Supreme Court Justice Larry V. Starcher, who sentenced him to a maximum of two years at the Anthony Correctional Center for youthful offenders in Neola, W.Va., and five years’ probation, Davis said. Starcher is handling some cases for Hancock County Circuit Court Judge Martin J. Gaughan.

If Solerno does not comply with the restrictions of his sentence and probation, he could face 10-20 years at a state prison, Davis said.

“They have a pretty strict program down there (at Anthony Correctional Center),” Davis said.

It is not believed the New Cumberland robbery is related to another bank robbery, at the Home Savings and Loan in Glenmoor, several hours later. St. Clair Township police Chief Don Hyatt said the surveillance photos from the New Cumberland robbery do not match the suspect, 36-year-old Tary Gilbert, in the Glenmoor holdup.

Anyone with information regarding the latest robbery or the suspect is asked to contact the Hancock County Sheriff’s Department at 304-564-3911.