Former Pitt football player pleads guilty to robbing bank

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A former University of Pittsburgh football player pleaded guilty Tuesday to robbing a bank last year.

Jovani Chappel, 26, of Hazelwood will serve one to two years at the Allegheny County Jail as part of an agreed-upon sentence.

The former defensive back who played from 2006 to 2009 cried as he apologized during his hearing before Common Pleas Judge Jeffrey A. Manning.

“I promise every day moving forward, I’m going to work toward proving my character — the man that I am, my morals and beliefs,” he said.

According to the prosecution, Chappel entered a PNC Bank branch in Greenfield about 10:40 a.m. Aug. 26 with a pillow case over his face.

He demanded money from three tellers and intimated that he had a weapon, said assistant district attorney Michael Pradines. He fled with $11,000, driving a car he borrowed from a neighbor.

Witnesses recorded the car’s license plate number, and when officers arrived at Chappel’s home, he was sitting on the front porch waiting for them, said his defense attorney Eric Fischer.

He cooperated and confessed, the lawyer said. The money was recovered using a GPS beacon hidden inside the bag.

According to Mr. Fischer, his client, who worked in insurance, had been laid off and in financial difficulty.

“It was a case of despair and depression,” Mr. Fischer said.

“It was a very, very dark place in my life,” Chappel said. “I made a really bad mistake.”

In addition to the jail sentence, Chappel will serve three years of probation.


Paula Reed Ward: pward@post-gazette.com, 412-263-2620 or on Twitter @PaulaReedWard. First Published April 22, 2014 12:28 PM


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