Bank-Booster Takes Cab Ride To Jail
A bungled note-job-style robbery of a Belle Harbor bank has landed a local man behind bars, thanks to an observant branch manager, quick thinking police, and a cool-headed cabbie.
Paul T. Fitzgerald, 30, entered the Cross County Savings Bank (CCSB) on Beach 129 Street on Friday May 2, and passed a memo stating that he had a grenade and demanding money, according to the Queens DA's Office. Fitzgerald fled with thousands of dollars in a livery cab, according to witnesses and police. He was apprehended shortly thereafter.
Fitzgerald, of 109 Oceanside Ave., in Rockaway Point, entered the bank just after 2:30 p.m., police said. He was wearing dark glasses and a baseball cap, according to the bank's manager, Anna Mae Macavoy.
Though he threatened to use a weapon, Macavoy said she and the teller who waited on Fitzgerald, felt relatively safe behind the protective glass, or "Bandit Barriers."
Macavoy triggered a silent alarm, she said, and focused on the robber's features - to be a good witness for police. She noted his disguise, that he was short, and that he took off as a passenger in a two-tone blue Belle Rock cab.
"I just kept watching him," Macavoy said.
The information Macavoy gave authorities came over the radios of police, and two clever cops came up with the plan that led to Fitzgerald's quick capture. The officers proceeded to the cabstand, and had the dispatcher communicate with the driver, in Russian, to find out his location. NYPD Aviation Unit helicopters were able to track the cab, from the sky.
The cab was pulled over by the NYPD Highway Unit on the Belt Parkway, nearby the Knapp Street exit.
Police apprehended Fitzgerald, and say they recovered $4,973. - the exact amount CCSB said was stolen. Fitzgerald admitted to a detective that he committed the robbery, according to papers filed with Queens District Attorney Richard Brown's office.
Macavoy credits a recent meeting between local police and bank employees where she says she learned to be an even better witness in a robbery situation.
Fitzgerald is charged with first and third degree robbery, and could face sentencing of 12-25 years. He was arraigned Saturday May 3, in Queens Criminal Court, before Judge Robert McGann. His bail was set at $35,000.
According to the DA's office, Fitzgerald is being represented by Legal Aide Attorney Risa Procton. His next court date is May 16.
At press time, Fitzgerald was in police custody, in the Bronx, according to the New York City Corrections Department.
His attorney did not return The Wave's calls for comment.