Woman says PO robbery was a failed suicide attempt

PITTSBURGH – A resident of Pitcairn, Pennsylvania, pleaded guilty in federal court to a charge of attempted post office robbery, United States Attorney Scott W. Brady announced today.

Kristen Risko, 23, pleaded guilty to one count before United States District Judge David S. Cercone.

In connection with the guilty plea, the court was advised that on July 21, 2016, the defendant, wearing a gray hooded sweatshirt with the hood over her head, large dark sunglasses covering her face and holding a metallic object in her right hand, walked into the United States Post Office in Pitcairn, Pennsylvania. She raised her right hand, pointed it at the clerk, and demanded money. The clerk could not see what was in the defendant’s hand because she had the sleeve from her sweatshirt covering her hand. The defendant moved closer to the clerk, demanded money and told him to give her everything that he had. As she got closer, he believed that she was holding a knife. The clerk told her that the police just drove by and that she had better leave because they were coming back any second. He then moved behind a doorframe and out of her view. At that point, the defendant fled the Post Office.

Officers utilized surveillance video to identify and track the whereabouts of the defendant. They observed her discard the sweatshirt and glasses, which they were able to recover from a yard. Postal Inspectors interviewed the defendant at her home the next day. She told the Postal Inspectors that she attempted to rob the Post Office as a way to commit suicide. She believed that when police responded to the scene, they would come in and shoot her. The defendant advised that the item that she carried in her hand was a remote control for a space heater, which she threw into the creek before returning home. She also admitted to throwing the sweatshirt and glasses into a residential yard as she fled the scene.

Judge Cercone scheduled sentencing for July 25, 2018. The law provides for a maximum total sentence of 10 years in prison, a fine of $250,000.00, or both. Under the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, the actual sentence imposed would be based upon the seriousness of the offense and the prior criminal history, if any, of the defendant.

Pending sentencing, Judge Cercone ordered that the defendant remain detained.

Assistant United States Attorney Shanicka L. Kennedy is prosecuting this case on behalf of the government.

The United States Postal Inspection Service and the Pitcairn Borough Police Department conducted the investigation leading to the prosecution of Risko.

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