Rayland man to be charged in bank robbery

STEUBENVILLE – A 31-year-old Rayland man will be charged with robbing the U.S. Bank in Smithfield Monday morning, Jefferson County Sheriff Fred Abdalla said today.

Joseph Bednarek, 4854 township Road 177, had a large amount of cash in his possession Monday when he was apprehended near Beatty Park in Steubenville, the sheriff said.

Abdalla said Bednarek allegedly entered the bank at 9:05 a.m., “walked up to a teller counting night deposit money and told her, ‘Give me your money so I don’t have to shoot you.’ She gave him the money, and he fled on foot.”

Tellers described the robber as 5 feet, 8 inches tall, weighing around 140-150 lbs., wearing black pants, a black jacket and a gray sweatshirt.

Abdalla said witnesses at a nearby gas station told them a man matching that description had been dropped off there about 15 minutes before the robbery and that the same man had been seen after the robbery as well.

“They knew who he was,” Abdalla said, adding he was seen some time later walking south on state Route 7 between Steubenville and Logan Avenue in Mingo Junction.

Officers from Smithfield, Wells Township, Mingo Junction, Ohio State Highway Patrol, the FBI and sheriff’s department took part in the search, the sheriff said.

“As we were converging on the south end, a Smithfield officer … in his own, unmarked vehicle, spotted (Bednarek) near Beatty Park,” Abdalla said.

While authorities aren’t saying how much money was taken in the heist, Abdalla said it was under $5,000.

“I give a lot of credit to all the police involved,” he said. “Smithfield, Wells Township, the sheriff’s department, OHP, FBI and Mingo Police. We all worked together, and when you work together you accomplish things.”

He also credited bank employees who “did the right thing. They gave us a good description of (the robber) and his clothing, a good solid description of the clothing this individual was wearing.”

Abdalla said Bednarek was not armed when police apprehended him.