Bank Robbery, Police Chase Suspect Pleads Guilty
PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – A man who robbed a bank and led police on a chase through Pittsburgh pleaded guilty in court Thursday morning.
Officers from Pittsburgh, Dormont, Reserve, Shaler and Millvale were initially involved in this police chase.
On Thursday, the man police said was responsible for the robbery, that led to the chase, stood up in court and said, “Your honor, I am pleading guilty because I am guilty.”
Based on pictures from the scene, concern for safety, police or anyone else appeared to be the last thing on 39-year-old John J. McAleavey’s mind on Sept. 5, 2008.
After he robbed a National City Bank on Banksville Road, he led police on a wild chase through the city until he crashed his Saturn SUV into a guard rail on the 31st Street Bridge.
However, concern for others is one of the factors his attorney said led him to reach a plea agreement in court this morning.
“He didn’t want to put the officers, the bank tellers, to have to go and relive the experiences,” Defense Attorney Scott Westcott said.
After lengthy negotiations, McAleavey pleaded guilty to robbery, theft and reckless endangerment charges. But, he wouldn’t plead on a conspiracy charge involving Meghan Jaeger, who faces her own non-jury trial for her role in the case.
McAleavey’s attorney said his client is remorseful for everything that happened that fateful day. He cited his client’s past brushes with mental health issues, as well as drugs and alcohol.
“He put the lives of many fine officers at risk. He put the community at risk and he’s not happy with himself,” Westcott said.
McAleavey may be called to testify in the case against Jaeger. It was not clear whether he was going to take the stand in that case Thursday afternoon or not.
He is scheduled to be sentenced in April on the other charges.
Now, in a related case, McAleavey had filed a federal lawsuit against the officers that arrested him.
He claimed they used excessive force at the time of his arrest. There’s no word on how a guilty plea may impact that suit.