EAST PROVIDENCE — Current and past East Providence Police Department officers have and will be honored for their efforts on the job.EPPD Detective Sergeant Diogo Mello was recently recognized for his role in bringing the so-called “Bearded Bandit” into custody last fall at the American Legion’s annual Law Enforcement Awards banquet held in city at the Post 10 Hall in Riverside.
Det. Mello was one of the lead officers on site at the Motel 6 in Seekonk on Sept. 18, 2012 when Justin Worley, a.k.a, “the Bandit,” was apprehended, bringing his eight-month spree of bank robberies in the area to an end.
Working a tip of the vehicles believed to be used while the committing the crimes and after an early-morning briefing that day, Det. Mello later spotted a green Jeep and a red/maroon Dodge van in parking lot of the motel and immediately notified the Seekonk Police Department.
A few hours later, the “Bearded Bandit” was arrested. Last month, Mr. Worley pleaded guilty to nine counts of bank robbery in U.S. District Court and is expected to receive a sentence in the range of 20 years in prison.
The “Bandit’s” heists began on Feb. 23, 2012 in Seekonk at the Bank of America branch just seconds south of the Motel 6 location where he was eventual caught. He also robbed the Bank of America branch in Barrington, July 26, the TD Bank in Rumford, Aug. 25, the TD Bank in Barrington, Sept. 11, and the Pawtucket Credit Union branch also in Rumford, Sept. 18. In total he amassed $32,633 in stolen cash.
“It’s not about me,” a humbled Det. Mello said of receiving the American Legion award. “It’s about all the other police departments, the FBI, the State Police, the U.S. attorneys who prosecuted the case. He got 20 years. Those are the people who deserve the credit. I was just lucky enough to be at the right place at the right time. A lot of people did a great job on this case.”
Also of note from the EPPD, former Chief George Rocha will be posthumously inducted into the Rhode Island Criminal Justice Hall of Fame during the organization’s annual ceremony Thursday, May 2, at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Warwick. The event begins at 5:30 p.m.
Chief Rocha, who passed away in 2009, had the longest-ever stint wearing the “No. 1” badge in East Providence Police Department history, serving in that capacity from 1966 to 1986. He was a past president of the Rhode Island Police Chiefs Association. He helped the EPPD transition from its former home to its current headquarters on Waterman Avenue following a fire.
Also of note, former city resident and Chief Justice of the Rhode Island Supreme Court Joseph R. Weisberger, likewise, will be inducted int the RICJ Hall of Fame posthumously. Justice Weisberger died unexpectedly on Dec. 7 of last year. He served as Supreme Court chief justice from 1993 to 2001.
His distinguished public service career include a stint in the State Senate as well as being a Superior Court judge. Post retirement, Justice Weisberger worked on the Supreme Court’s mediation program.
In addition, the RICJ Hall of Fame Board of Trustees has voted to honor all police officers who lost their lives in the line of duty with a special induction into the hall.
Ticket for the ceremony are $30 per person. RSVP by Monday, April 22.
The Rhode Island Criminal Justice Hall of Fame was created by Attorney General Peter Kilmartin in early 2012. The group of 2013 inductees is the second class to be selected. The Hall of Fame itself is housed at Community College of Rhode Island Lincoln Campus, which is also the home of the R.I. Police Academy.
Inductees into the Hall of Fame are nominated and selected by the Criminal Justice Hall of Fame Board of Trustees. Inductees include local and state law enforcement professionals, academics, judges, attorneys and other professionals who have made a significant impact in the criminal justice system through personal and professional achievements.