Alleged robber who led police on chase arraigned

March 13, 2013

A man who led police on a high-speed chase from West Virginia to Greene County last month was arraigned Wednesday on charges for allegedly robbing a South Strabane Township business.

Rocco John Iacovone was charged with two counts of robbery and one count each of theft and possessing instruments of a crime.

Police were called about 3 a.m., Feb. 11 for a reported robbery at the BP station, 505 Racetrack Road. The robber was wearing a dark, hooded shirt, dark denim pants and white tennis shoes and made no attempt to conceal his face.

The man, later identified as Iacovone, asked the clerk for a pack of cigarettes. After the clerk scanned the pack, Iacovone allegedly pulled out a semiautomatic handgun, pointed it at him and demanded Marlboro cigarettes and cash. After stealing the items, he got into a white van and fled in the direction of Interstate 79, police said.

Detective Ken Torboli later learned that Iacovone was a suspect in a Feb. 10 robbery of a Subway in Fairmont, W.Va.

On Feb. 13, police from West Virginia started chasing Iacovone after he allegedly robbed a gas station in White Hall, W.Va. He came into Pennsylvania and was apprehended by state police near the Ruff Creek exit of I-79. He was driving a van registered to his roommate, who told police he allowed Iacovone to use the vehicle.

Police found an air gun in the van that looked like a semiautomatic handgun. He was wearing what appeared to be the same clothing he wore at the time of the BP robbery, police said.

Police obtained a search warrant for the home at 65 S. Watson Ave., East Washington, where he had been staying, and found an unopened carton of Marlboro Gold cigarettes as well as two packs of Marlboro Reds. One had a Pennsylvania tax stamp and other had a West Virginia tax stamp.

Iacovone told District Judge Jay Weller during his arraignment he was living with friends on South Watson Avenue at the time of his arrest.

“I lived in Pennsylvania for a month after living in West Virginia,” Iacovone said.

When Weller told him he sounded like a “nomad,” Iacovone said he had worked in oil fields in Arizona and was working at one in West Virginia before losing his job.

“I was just hanging out,” he told Weller. “I couldn’t find work.”

He also told Weller that “speed” was his drug of choice.

Torboli told Weller that Iacovone did four years for a robbery in Arizona and also did time for a burglary in New Jersey.

Iacovone had been lodged in the Greene County jail since his arrest by state police on charges including fleeing from police and reckless endangerment.

Weller set bond at $100,000. Iacovone faces a preliminary hearing in Central Court Wednesday.

Iacovone also faces charges in West Virginia.

Kathie O. Warco has covered the police beat and transportation for the Observer-Reporter for more than 25 years. She graduated from Duquesne University with a degree in journalism.

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