- Associated Press - Tuesday, April 21, 2015

PITTSBURGH (AP) - A man linked to four Pittsburgh-area bank robberies by his red beard - before he wore a fake red beard during two more heists - has pleaded guilty to all six crimes.

Christopher Furay, 33, of Baldwin, remained jailed after Tuesday’s guilty plea before Senior U.S. District Judge Gustave Diamond who will sentence Furay when he returns to court Aug. 19.

Furay faces up to 20 years in prison for each of the six heists, which netted him a rough total of $16,000, between Dec. 1 and Jan. 16.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Cindy Chung told the judge that Furay was arrested shortly after the Jan. 16 robbery at the Citizen’s Bank branch in Brentwood because his getaway car was recognized by police as the same one used after a Jan. 8 heist at the First Commonwealth Bank in West Mifflin.

But, even before that, Chung said, police and the FBI believed they were chasing a serial robbery suspect because of how the heists were carried out and the suspect’s red beard.

During the first four heists, the suspect would pretend to be talking on his cellphone while in a teller’s line, then he’d pass a note demanding money when it was his turn.

Although Furay wore a hat and used the phone to partially shield his face, surveillance video showed the suspect in those robberies had a reddish beard, Chung said.

After extensive Pittsburgh-area media coverage of the first four robberies, Furay stopped using the cellphone as a prop and, instead, directly approached the tellers wearing a fake red beard to cover his real one, Chung told the judge.

He confessed to all six robberies after his arrest, she said.

Furay’s federal public defender, Thomas Livingston, didn’t immediately return a call for comment after the guilty plea hearing.

Furay’s actual sentence will be driven by federal guidelines taking into account his criminal history, if any, and the seriousness of his crimes. He didn’t use a weapon during any of the robberies, Chung said.

The least Furay took in any robbery was $1,950 in the first heist at a First Commonwealth branch in Dormont on Dec. 1, according to the indictment. The most was $4,880 taken in the final robbery.

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