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Police: Man robs ride-share driver on Vandergrift street

posted Feb 25, 2017, 6:02 PM by Joseph Gray

Chuck Biedka | Tuesday, Feb. 21, 2017, 11:57 p.m.
Courtesy of Tarentum Police
Jacki Lee Williams

A Reserve Township man once known as New Kensington's “sob story robber” is accused of stealing $80 from a ride sharing service driver in Vandergrift.

According to court papers, Jacki Lee Williams, 44, of Highland Avenue, allegedly got a ride from Vandergrift to New Kensington and then back to Vandergrift about 3 a.m. Saturday.

After Williams spent a few minutes in a house along the 100 block of Seventh Street in New Kensington, the driver returned him to Vandergrift. It was then that Williams allegedly asked the driver whether she had change for a $100 bill.

In response, the driver took $80 from her purse and held it in her hand. According to court papers, Williams grabbed the money from the driver and got out of the car.

The driver saw Williams walk into a Franklin Avenue address and waited one hour for him to come out with change.

When he didn't return, court papers state, she called police.

Police found Williams, who police say has used eight aliases, including Mussa Williams, Jackie Williams and Jack Williams, in front of a store along Farragut Avenue in Vandergrift on Wednesday.

He was taken to the Allegheny Township office of District Judge Cheryl Peck-Yakopec, where he was arraigned on charges including robbery, theft and receiving stolen property.

Peck ordered Williams to be taken to the Westmoreland County Prison in lieu of $75,000 cash bail pending a preliminary hearing scheduled for Tuesday.

Williams was wanted on a warrant for a parole violation involving a robbery from last year.

Sob story robbery

In March, Williams pleaded guilty to what police called the “sob story” robbery.

According to New Kensington police, Williams told a man at a Harrison gas station that he had a family emergency and needed a ride to New Kensington. Williams offered to pay the driver for a lift, police said.

When Williams and the man reached New Kensington, police say Williams pulled a gun and robbed the driver, then fled.

In a plea deal, Williams was sentenced to five to 12 months in jail. He was given credit for time served and sent to an inpatient addiction facility in September. He was told his parole would be revoked if he left. In November, he was cited for violating the terms of his parole and, police say, he didn't attend a parole revocation hearing in January.

Additional charges pending

Williams is facing charges in another case in New Kensington.

He is accused of making terroristic threats and harassment in an incident in October and is scheduled to have a preliminary hearing in March.

Police said Williams has a 48-page criminal record.

He previously had addresses in Arnold and New Kensington, and served jail time for robbery, theft and having drugs and paraphernalia in Arnold and New Kensington and theft in Tarentum.

In 1999, he was sentenced to state prison for robbery in Westmoreland County. He was released in 2004 after serving about four years, according to the state Department of Corrections.

Chuck Biedka is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 724-226-4711 or