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Anthony Lena admits to role in 3 bank robberies, attempted holdup

By Ryan Hughes, Reporter, RHughes@wfmz.com
69 News, follow: @69news, news@wfmz.com
Published On: Mar 07 2014 10:15:10 AM CST
Updated On: Mar 07 2014 05:00:32 PM CST

A man arrested following the robbery of a credit union in Berks County on Thursday has admitted to committing two other holdups and one attempted robbery, police said Friday.

EXETER TWP., Pa. -

A man arrested following the robbery of a credit union in Berks County on Thursday has admitted to committing two other holdups and one attempted robbery, police said Friday.

Anthony Lena was apprehended by police Thursday afternoon as he was driving back to his home in the 2600 block of Perkiomen Avenue in Mount Penn.

"Everybody is crying, and we're just trying to hold on and help each other," said Joe Ustaszewski, Lena's uncle.

Lena's family is left broken and confused. Ustaszewski is trying to comprehend why his nephew allegedly went on a bank robbery spree across Berks County.

"He's a good kid,"  Ustaszewski said.

Was he going through some troubled times? asked 69 News. "Probably, I don't know. I just don't know," Ustaszewski answered.

"I'm still in shock. I found out through the police," said Kristine Peterman, Lena's roommate.

Peterman claimed she had no idea her roommate was allegedly terrorizing tellers. They lived together in the 2600 block of Perkiomen Avenue in Mount Penn for more than a year. She said Lena virtually hit rock bottom recently. He lost his job a few months back, but she thought he was still paying the rent.

"He said he was, but then I found out he wasn't and I found the paper in here last night regarding eviction," said Peterman.

Both Lena's family and roommate said he has a history of drug abuse, and he must have been desperate for money. 

During one robbery, he slipped the teller this note, ""I HAVE A GUN. I WANT ALL THE MONEY IN THE DRAWER. STAY CALM AND NO ONE GETS HURT!" according to court documents. 

Police have been hot on his trail, and more than 20 tips to Crime Alert Berks County helped make their job easier. Multiple agencies worked together and conducted surveillance, and on Thursday afternoon Lena was caught.

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"We found some evidence inside the vehicle from the Cumru Township robbery where we recovered most of the money and evidence from one of the other robberies," said Chief Christopher Neidert, Exeter Twp. Police Dept.

Following his arrest, Lena admitted to the robbery in Cumru, another at the Metro Bank on the North 5th Street Highway in Muhlenberg Township on Sunday and a third at the Visions Federal Credit Union inside the Giant Food Store on Perkiomen Avenue in Exeter Township on Feb. 19, police said. Lena told investigators he also tried to rob the National Penn Bank, 4300 Oley Turnpike Rd., in Exeter on Feb. 11.

"I mean robbing banks, you just don't do that. You just don't do that no matter how tough times are for somebody. You don't do that," said Peterman.

Lena, 28, was charged Thursday night with robbery, receiving stolen property, theft by unlawful taking and terroristic threats for his alleged role in the Exeter robbery. Charges in the other holdups are pending, police said.

In the meantime, Lena is behind bars in the Berks County Jail on $70,000 bail.

The robberies of the First Niagara Bank on Route 422 in Amity Township on Feb. 10 and the M&T Bank in the Broadcasting Square shopping center in Spring Township on Feb. 12 remain unsolved, police said.

Anyone with information that can help police solve those holdups can call Crime Alert at 877-373-9913. A cash reward of up to $5,000 is being offered for an anonymous tip that leads to an arrest.