- Associated Press - Monday, January 30, 2017

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) - Trial is underway for a Pennsylvania man accused of plotting multiple armed bank robberies, including the botched robbery of a Connecticut credit union during which he strapped a bank executive with a fake bomb.

The Knoxville News-Sentinel reports (https://bit.ly/2jw1xvq ) that jury selection began Monday in the trial of 44-year-old Michael Benanti of Lake Harmony, Pennsylvania. He faces a 23-count indictment in an alleged four-state crime spree in which bank officials and their families were attacked in their homes and held hostage in an extortion plot.

Three of those kidnappings occurred in 2015 in East Tennessee. Both Benanti and confessed co-defendant Brian Witham were arrested in November 2015 after a chase in North Carolina.

If convicted, Benanti could face more than 300 years behind bars.

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Information from: Knoxville News Sentinel, https://www.knoxnews.com

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