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Four Charged in Alleged Robbery Attempt

by on May 18, 2017 4:46 PM

Four people are facing charges after an alleged attempted robbery early Tuesday morning in State College.

According to a criminal complaint, State College police received a call at 2:58 a.m. from a man who reported he was confronted by two masked men as he was about to enter his residence on South Burrowes Street. A witness also called about seeing two individuals outside, one of whom was pointing what appeared to be a silver pistol.

The alleged victim told police that he had earlier been picked up by two people, Anthony L. Mittelman, 18, of State College and a 17-year-old State College juvenile. He said that after they went to Minit Mart on North Atherton Street they dropped him off at his residence. When he went to the rear of the residence, he was reportedly confronted by two males wearing bandanas to conceal their faces, sunglasses and hoodies. They were carrying what police later determined to be BB guns, a knife and a machete.

The man told police that one of the suspects asked him if he had "robbed" anyone recently and that both suspects then began screaming at him. He fled and the two suspects followed him while still threatening him, according to the complaint.

After a general description of the suspects was broadcast on police radio, officers stopped two males about a block away, both of whom were wearing dark clothing and had bandanas visible. Police said one man, identified as Brett M. Altamura, 20, of State College was bleeding from his hand and had a knife on a cord hanging from his wrist. The other, identified as Benjamin F. Kelly, 18, of State College had a holstered handgun at his side. Both men complied with police and said they had BB guns, not real guns, in their possession.

Altamura and Kelly were taken into custody. Police said Altamura was wearing a dark jacket with a hoodie and had a bandana around his neck, and that he was in possession of a replica handgun style BB gun, a knife attached to a cord around his blood-covered wrist, a flashlight and a machete sheath attached to his belt.

Police said Kelly also was wearing dark clothing and had a bandana, and that he possessed a replica hand gun style BB gun, two 64 mm ammo rounds, a brass knuckles and knife combo, sunglasses and a headlamp with a strap.

Altamura reportedly waived his rights and told police that the entire incident was planned among him, Kelly, Mittelman and the juvenile. He said that Kelly had been jumped and had money stolen from him several days earlier by the alleged victim and his crew during a "weed" transaction. He said the man continued to threaten Kelly and his family and that they were trying to scare him, according to the complaint. 

He allegedly said they went to Walmart to get supplies, including the BB guns, knives, bandanas and a machete. The juvenile then texted the man about smoking or purchasing marijuana and that the man then asked the juvenile to take him to Minit Mart for food. After the juvenile and Mittleman picked him up, Altamura reportedly said he and Kelly got in position behind the residence and waited for him to return.

According to the complaint, Altamura said he asked the man if he had robbed anyone recently and started yelling at him. After the man ran away, Altamura said he and Kelly chased after him but couldn't catch him. Altamura told police he "wasn't going to kill anyone."

He reportedly said that after he and Kelly lost their ride and saw police in the area, he threw away the machete and at some point fell on his knife, cutting his hand. 

After Altamura and Kelly were taken into custody, police received a tip that the juvenile and Mittelman may be at the juvenile's residence and involved in drug activity. Both were found at the residence and taken into custody. 

Police said a search of the house found opened Walmart merchandise packaging for a black side holster and a BB gun, packaged and loose BB ammo, and .410 bore shot gun shells matching those found on Kelly, as well as a piece of rubber cord that was cut and which matched that found on Altamura's wrist. They also reportedly found suspected marijuana residue and drug paraphernalia, dismantled fireworks and shotgun shells along with gunpowder and makeshift fireworks. 

According to the complaint, the juvenile waived his rights and admitted texting the alleged victim to set up a drug deal. He confirmed that he and Mittelman dropped off Kelly and Altamura before picking up the man and taking him to Minit Mart for cigars, then drove him back to his residence.

Mittelman, meanwhile, also waived his rights and told police the man had stolen marijuana from Kelly and that Altamura and Kelly wanted "get even" with him, police said. He allegedly said that he stole a BB gun, machete and other items from Walmart and then they all returned to the juvenile's residence to assemble the guns and get ready.

Police said he confirmed dropping Altamura and Kelly off, picking up the alleged victim and dropping him back off at home, but he said was unsure what happened next.

Altamura and Kelly were arraigned Tuesday morning before District Judge Carmine Prestia. Both are charged with felony counts of attempted robbery and conspiracy and misdemeanor counts of simple assault and possession of instruments of crime. Kelly also faces a misdemeanor weapons charge. Straight bail was set at $100,000 each.

Mittelman and the juvenile were arraigned on Tuesday night before District Judge Steven Lachman. Both face a felony conspiracy charge. The juvenile is a charged with a misdemeanor count of possession of drug paraphernalia and Mittelman received a summary retail theft charge.

Straight bail was set at $75,000 for Mittelman and $25,000 for the juvenile.

Preliminary hearings for all four are scheduled for May 24. 


Geoff Rushton is managing editor for Contact him at or find him on Twitter at @geoffrushton.
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