SNOW HILL — The two Pennsylvania men arrested last July in connection with the robbery of the PNC Bank on Route 50 in West Ocean City were formally indicted in U.S. District Court last week for their roles in a spree of armed robberies carried out over the period of several weeks last summer.
One of the suspects, identified as Dale Mentzer, 35, of Newmanstown, Pa., was found guilty in April in Worcester County Circuit Court of robbery, conspiracy to commit robbery and theft and a pre-sentence investigation was ordered. Mentzer’s alleged co-conspirator in the robbery spree, Heath Derizzo, 36, of Harrisburg, Pa. was initially charged in Worcester for the same bank robbery, but had the charges against him here dropped when it was determined he would be ultimately charged in U.S. District Court.
The Worcester County State’s Attorney’s Office, working in close partnership with federal prosecutors, decided to try Mentzer here for his role in the West Ocean City bank robbery and was able to gain a conviction to keep him behind bars until he could be formally indicted in U.S. District Court in Pennsylvania. Derizzo, meanwhile, went directly to federal prosecutors as a cooperative witness in the case against Mentzer and was also indicted in U.S. District Court last week for his role in the robbery spree last summer.
Mentzer and Derizzo allegedly began their spree last July 19 with the robbery of farm store in rural Pennsylvania and the list of holdups they have been connected to includes five banks and two markets or farm stores or nurseries including the PNC Bank in West Ocean City on July 23.
The then-unidentified suspects entered the PNC Bank branch on Route 50 and demanded money and then fled the scene. No injuries were reported, nor were any weapons displayed. Early on in the investigation, with the help of media and social networks circulating surveillance images of the suspects, a possible connection was developed to a series of bank robberies in Pennsylvania the week before.
Maryland State Police and Worcester County Sheriff’s Office investigators continued to follow up on leads and search for the two suspects in the hours following the West Ocean City bank robbery. Later that same night, Derizzo and Mentzer were located in a motel room in Salisbury and were taken into custody without further incident.
Search warrants were issued and executed on the motel room in Salisbury where Derizzo and Mentzer were found and arrested and evidence was collected connecting them to the West Ocean City bank robbery earlier that day. According to court records, the robbery spree began a few days earlier in Pennsylvania when Mentzer and Derizzo allegedly began the holdups to finance a crack cocaine binge they had been on for weeks.
A cooperating witness close to the pair told police from late June through July 23, 2013, Derizzo and Mentzer, longtime friends, were on a crack cocaine binge. The witness told police at numerous times during binge, Derizzo and Mentzer ran out of money, but would borrow her vehicle and return a short time later with large quantities of cash.
On July 19, 2013, Derizzo and Mentzer entered a farm stand in Northhampton County, Pa. and brandished a gun and demanded money from the clerk, who was working alone. When the clerk was unable to provide any money to the suspects, Derizzo and Mentzer directed her to a locked business trailer on the site. Derizzo allegedly forced entry to the trailer through a rear window and climbed inside. The victim was also forced to climb inside and sustained injuries from the broken glass.
Once inside, Derizzo and Mentzer removed computer equipment and a cash drawer containing roughly $50. The suspects also took personal property from then victim including her purse, identification cards and a cell phone. The suspects then demanded the victim remove all of their clothes and instructed her to remain in the trailer until they had left the scene.
About 10 minutes after that incident, Derizzo allegedly entered the National Penn Bank about three miles from the farm stand and handed the teller a note demanding money. The teller gave Derizzo roughly $4,630 in cash and Derizzo fled on foot. Surveillance footage captured at the bank clearly depicts Derizzo, who was not wearing a mask and had the same distinctive tattoos seen on surveillance footage from the PNC Bank robbery in West Ocean City a week later.
The cooperating witness told investigators she was with Mentzer and Derizzo before and after the incidents on July 19 in Pennsylvania. She told police Mentzer and Derizzo said they were going to “go to work.” They returned several hours later and split a large sum of cash among themselves. The cooperating witness told police the two suspects admitted they had robbed the farm stand and Mentzer bragged about pointing the gun at the female victim and ordering her to take off her clothes. The two suspects told the witness to clean out the vehicle and she found in it broken glass, clothing, a woman’s purse and several bullets.