East Providence Police say 'Bearded Bandit' stole thousands


EAST PROVIDENCE — A few more details emerged about alleged "Bearded Bandit" bank robber Justin Worley, though law enforcement officials pretty much kept their cards close to the vest during an afternoon press conference Thursday, Sept. 20, at East Providence Police Department headquarters.

Mr. Worley, 33, was arraigned on several charges earlier Thursday in Taunton District Court after his eight-month spree of heists came to an end the previous afternoon in nearby Seekonk.

"We have much, much more to do in this investigation," East Providence Police Chief Joseph Tavares said. Two of Mr. Worley's heists occurred in the city.

"We will continue to seek search warrants and to execute those warrants," Chief Tavares continued. "We still have places and vehicles to search. You can just imagine with this many back robberies through all these months, there's a lot of leg work left to do. We still have a lot of follow-up we need to do to successfully prosecute this case. It's far from over."

Police still weren't quite sure where Mr. Worley was born or raised or whether he actually spent time in East Providence or any other place in the area. His last known place of residence, the site of his capture at the Motel 6 on Route 6A in Seekonk, was used as his booking address. The age of his young daughter was also clarified, the baby girl being noted as two years old.

Chief Tavares would not discuss what investigators found in Mr. Worley's room, going so far as not even to comment on if they retrieved the now infamous fake beard he wore while committing the robberies. In addition, the exact total amount of money Mr. Worley stole in his eight robberies was not specified.

"Obviously we're talking thousands of dollars considering the number of robberies he committed. Some of robberies were larger than the others. A crime is a crime, but we are talking about a significant amount of money," Chief Tavares said.

His legal representative at his arraignment claimed Mr. Worley to be an 11-year veteran of the United States Army, who had been traumatized by a tour of duty in Iraq. He received little sympathy from police based on that fact.

"(Mr. Worley) has little in common with the proud veterans I know," said Chief Tavares, who also wanted not to speculate on Mr. Morley's motives. "I don't see him as a veteran. I see him as the criminal he is."

Mr. Worley, whose last caper came Tuesday afternoon, Sept. 18, at the Pawtucket Credit Union in city on Newport Avenue, was finally captured at the Motel 6 in Seekonk on Wednesday, Sept. 19.

While at a briefing involving members from a variety of law enforcement organizations the same Wednesday morning of the eventual arrest, police formulated a plan to work a tip from Mr. Worley's Tuesday heist.

"It was a coordinated effort by all involved," Chief Tavares said, refusing to specify the tactics and procedures used by investigators.

"We developed additional information about the suspect's vehicle," he continued. "We had solid indications that there were two vehicles associated with the 'Bandit.' As a result of (Wednesday's) meeting, we went out and began our search. And I'm very proud to report it was East Providence Police Detective Diogo Mello who located the vehicle in Seekonk."

A witness claimed to have seen the "Bandit" leave the PCC branch in a green SUV. Chief  Tavares credited all of the agencies involved with finally bringing Mr. Worley into custody.

"We want to thank the media for getting information about this case out there and for the public for helping us," Chief Tavares said. "It's very, very important to have people engaged and if they have any information to report it."

Sergeant Mello spotted a green Jeep and a red/maroon Dodge van in parking lot of the Seekonk motel and immediately notified the town's police department. A few hours later, the "Bearded Bandit" was arrested.

"I would be remiss if I didn't single out Sgt. Mello. He has a habit of making those kinds of finds," Chief Tavares said of his detective. "Again, I want to say it was a coordinated effort, but especially because of the efforts of Sgt. Diogo Mello. This is certainly a proud day for the East Providence Police Department "

Chief Tavares said he expects Mr. Worley to be charged in Rhode Island once Massachusetts officials are finished with their part of the case. In the meantime, EPPD detectives and their cohorts will continue their investigation.

"After the arrest is when the 'real' work begins," Chief Tavares added. "It's a lengthy process."



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Mike Rego has worked at East Bay Newspapers since 2001, helping the company launch The Westport Shorelines. He soon after became a Sports Editor, spending the next 10-plus years in that role before taking over as editor of The East Providence Post in February of 2012. To contact Mike to submit information, suggest story ideas or photo opportunities, etc., email mrego@eastbaynewspapers.com.