Suspect Is Nabbed In Bank Robbery

BRIDGEPORT – A Jefferson County-area man was arrested in connection with the armed robbery Tuesday morning of the Citizens Bank at the corner of Dekalb and Howard streets in the village.

According to Police Chief Andy Klotz, a 911 call came in from the bank regarding an armed robbery at 9:48 a.m.

“I responded, as well as other units from the county,” Klotz said. “We were in the neighborhood pretty quick. When I entered the bank, the teller advised that a man entered the bank with a small handgun, pointed it at her and told her to give him all of her money. She gave him the money and he left on foot, heading west through an alley.”

Witnesses said the suspect was a heavy-set male, wearing a dark gray hooded sweatshirt and blue sweat pants. Officers from Bridgeport, Martins Ferry, Shadyside and Bellaire police departments, as well as the Belmont County Sheriff’s Department responded and searched the area, which is a combination of commercial and residential properties. A short time later, officers found the suspect described by the teller.

Klotz said the subject, James Richard Oberman, 31, was apprehended approximately four blocks west of the scene. He was taken back to the scene and identified by the teller.

The chief said the stolen money, along with the alleged handgun and a gray hooded sweatshirt the suspect was reportedly wearing were recovered. Oberman is charged with aggravated robbery and possessing weapons under disability.

In April 2011, Oberman was sentenced to three years in jail in Jefferson County Common Pleas Court for robbing the WesBanco branch at the Fort Steuben Mall. In that Dec. 13, 2010, incident, Oberman walked into the bank and demanded money from the clerk.

Oberman admitted to leaving the bank with about $2,800 in cash and going to Jill’s Gentleman’s Club in Wheeling, where he spent half the cash in about four hours.

Oberman said he went to a Wheeling-area motel and called his former girlfriend bragging about the bank robbery.

She then called Steubenville police with the information, and the FBI was contacted to arrest Oberman at his motel.

Oberman said he was basically homeless and was drinking and taking drugs. He called the 2010 bank robbery “a cry for help.”