Suspect in multistate robbery spree arrested in Greene County

February 13, 2013
Rocco John Iacovone

WAYNESBURG – A suspect in an armed robbery at a convenience store near Fairmont, W.Va., led police on a high-speed chase north on Interstate 79 early Wednesday before his vehicle was forced to a stop by state police near Ruff Creek in Greene County.

Rocco John Iacovone, 26, of Washington, formerly of Fairmont and Glendale, Ariz., was arrested by state police and charged with fleeing or attempting to elude police, driving under the influence of alcohol, recklessly endangering another person and other charges.

Police said Iacovone also is a suspect in armed robberies at a Subway restaurant in Fairmont Sunday and at a BP station in South Strabane Township, Washington County, Monday.

The pursuit on Interstate 79 began near Fairmont. Fairmont police said they received an alert at 11:49 p.m. Tuesday about an armed robbery at Go-Mart in nearby White Hall, W.Va., in which the robber fled in a white minivan.

A Fairmont patrolman spotted the vehicle traveling north on Interstate 79 and attempted to stop it. The driver fled.

Fairmont police, assisted by officers with the Marion County, W.Va., Sheriff’s Department, continued the pursuit on Interstate 79, at times hitting speeds of 90 mph.

When Iacovone entered Pennsylvania about midnight, state police here joined the chase.

State police deployed spike strips at the 14-mile marker near Waynesburg, which deflated one of the vehicle’s tires. The vehicle continued north, exited the interstate at the Ruff Creek exit and turned right onto Route 221.

About two-tenths of a mile from the interstate, state police Trooper Joseph Popielarcheck used his car in a “pit maneuver,” bumping the minivan’s bumper with his own in an attempt to stop the vehicle, state police said.

Iacovone lost control of the minivan, which overturned on the west side of the road. Iacovone fled on foot, jumping over two fences before he was apprehended by two troopers. Police said they had to use substantial force to overcome his resistance.

Iacovone was arraigned before District Judge Lou Dayich and placed in the Greene County jail on $100,000 bond. He faces a preliminary hearing on the Pennsylvania charges at 10 a.m. Feb. 22.

State police on Wednesday morning conducted a search near the Kirby interchange of I-79, where they said a Marion County sheriff’s deputy had seen Iacovone throw a handgun from his vehicle. The investigating trooper could not be reached Wednesday for comment on the search.

Iacovone also is a suspect in an armed robbery Sunday at a Subway restaurant in Fairmont. Fairmont police Lt. Steve Shine said a man entered the restaurant about 11:30 p.m. armed with a handgun and demanded cash. His department expects to file robbery charges against Iacovone in Marion County today. Shine said Iacovone had lived in Fairmont but in the last week or two moved to Washington.

A spokesman for the White Hall Police Department would only say the department is investigating the Go-Mart robbery and expects to file charges against Iacovone.

The robber of a BP gas station on Racetrack Road in South Strabane Township Monday entered the store about 3:10 a.m., pointed a handgun at the clerk and asked for money and cigarettes. The robber fled in a white van.

South Strabane police said Wednesday a description of the handgun and the clothing worn by Iacovone when captured appear to match those of the gas station robber. Investigators there said they will coordinate their efforts with those of the other police departments.

Bob Niedbala worked as a general assignment reporter for the newspaper for 27 years in the Greene County bureau. He received a bachelor’s degree in English from the University of Pittsburgh.

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