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Gunpoint Robber of 4 Drivers Gets 5 to 15 Years in State Prison

June 23, 2016


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Matthew Lannetti, 215.340.8018, mslannetti@buckscounty.org

A Bensalem man who fed his drug addiction by robbing three taxi drivers and a pizza delivery man at gunpoint last year was sentenced Monday to serve five to 15 years in state prison.

Matthew Mirante, 28, had pleaded guilty on March 14 in Bucks County Common Pleas Court to four counts of robbery and one count of conspiracy to commit robbery, all first-degree felonies.

Mirante admitted that he and his girlfriend, Mellissa Hammond, 28, robbed the drivers during a five-day period in November to support their heroin addictions. Hammond, who also pleaded guilty on March 14, has not yet been sentenced.

At about 3:30 a.m. Nov. 20, Mirante put a gun to the head of Carl Graser Jr., a cab driver who had answered a call to pick up a man named “Josh” at the Park Avenue Apartments in Bensalem. Mirante, who had placed the call, demanded Graser’s keys, cell phone and wallet, which contained $120, before fleeing.

Two days later, at about 8 p.m., Hammond placed a delivery call to Domino’s Pizza, identifying herself as “Michelle.” The driver, Nasir Letife Mian, tried unsuccessfully to deliver the pizza to an apartment at the Park Avenue complex before Mirante robbed him on his way back to his vehicle. Mirante brandished a gun, demanded money and Mian’s phone, and escaped with $80 and the GPS device from Mian’s vehicle.

On Nov. 23, Mirante robbed another cab driver at gunpoint in the 1000 block of Cedar Avenue in Bensalem at about 10 p.m. The driver, Mushtak Ahmed, was approached by Hammond, who asked if he was the driver who had been summoned to the address. Mirante then appeared from behind her, pointed the gun at Ahmed, and took about $200, the driver’s cell phone and the key to his vehicle.

The fourth robbery occurred in the 3400 block of Parkside Avenue in Huntingdon Valley at about 3:45 a.m. on Nov. 25. Cab driver Abdelghani Elbaad told police that he was approached by a man identifying himself as “Josh,” who pointed a gun at him. Mirante demanded money and escaped with $20 and the driver’s wallet, which contained his identification and credit cards.

Elbaad was able to provide police with a license plate number for the car in which Mirante and Hammond escaped. Police arrested the two later that day after locating them at the apartment of Mirante’s mother.

The handgun later was determined to be a BB gun.

On Monday, Judge C. Theodore Fritsch Jr. sentenced Mirante to serve five concurrent five-to-15-year prison sentences, one for each robbery and one for conspiracy to commit robbery. He also ordered Mirante to pay $900 in restitution and to have no contact with the victims, saying Mirante had “placed (them) in great fear.”

Mirante told Fritsch that he would “get treatment and learn how to stay away from the drugs” during his time in prison.

The case was investigated by Bensalem police detectives.

Approved for release by Daniel B. Sweeney, Deputy District Attorney.

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