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Beline Obeid

Accused bank robber waives hearings to avoid making waves

Brad Lindberg Staff Writer
July 20, 2017
GROSSE POINTE FARMS AND CITY — The defendant in back-to-back bank robberies waived his rights to pretrial hearings last week in favor of moving inconspicuously toward resolution.

“(He) wanted to waive his right to a preliminary exam,” said defense attorney Kristina Joseph. “It was his idea to do that so he didn’t further put out the banks or their employees. He’s been admittedly remorseful about anything that happened. He is dealing with it and truly wants to move forward.”

The strategy also avoids victims testifying in Grosse Pointe municipal courts how the suspect entered the banks, claimed in at least one instance to have a gun and demanded cash.

An accumulation of gambling debts reportedly preceded Joseph’s client, Nicholas Rocco Cinqueranelli, 27, of the City of Grosse Pointe, allegedly robbing Chase Bank on East Jefferson of $2,050 Wednesday, June 14, and, the following afternoon, aborting the robbery of Fifth Third Bank on the Hill in the Farms.

The crimes are felonies punishable by up to life in prison.

Otherwise, Cinquera-nelli has a clean record, according to detectives from both cities.

“Gambling addiction is very real,” Joseph said. “It’s been going on for some time now. It spirals out of control. That is what caused someone who had no criminal history of any kind to drastically turn.”

Problems stemming from gambling can be looked at as a moral deficiency, but the American Psychiatric Association rates it a major addictive disorder.

“In 2013, the Diagnostic Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, which is like the psychiatrist’s Bible, removed pathological gambling from impulse control directly into the addictive category with alcoholism and chemical dependency,” said Michael Mooney, a paneled treatment provider in Roseville for the Michigan Problem Gambling Treatment program. “Scientifically, there’s no difference between them.”

Joseph suggested her legal team’s quiet defense will continue as the cases move from municipal courts to Wayne County Circuit Court.

“Nick doesn’t want to put anyone out any further than he already has,” Joseph said. “He’s truly trying to make this as easy as possible on those affected. That’s the reason for moving forward. We’re going to hope justice is served at circuit court and everything plays out how we hope it will.”

Cinqueranelli waived hearings in the Farms and City Wednesday and Thursday, July 12 and 13, respectively.

“If you give up your right to a preliminary exam, you’ll be automatically bound over to circuit court,” Farms Judge Matthew Rumora told Cinqueranelli. “Do you understand that?”

“Yes, your honor,” he said.

Nearly ditto in the City.

“When you waive your right to have a preliminary examination, you’re not pleading guilty or anything,” City Judge Russell Ethridge told him. “You’re simply skipping to the next stage in the proceedings.”

“Yes, your honor,” Cinqueranelli said.

His arraignments in circuit court are 9 a.m. Wednesday, July 26.

Bond — a combined $2,000 — is maintained. So are orders to continue wearing an electronic tether and remain at home unless attending weekly counseling sessions with an addictionologist.

Joseph said Cinqueranelli tried to control his gambling.

“There have been quite a few different ways he’s gambled,” she said. “We’ll just put it that way for now. He is seeking the help he needs and the help he probably should have sought earlier to avoid this whole situation. He’s not some sort of hardened criminal or anything like that.”

Mooney, as a counselor and vice president of the Michigan Association of Problem Gambling, is familiar with gambling-related defendants ruining clean records.

“Some people think it odd someone would use the pressure of problem gambling to commit a crime,” he said. “But, in my world, this is everyday stuff. In your world, it’s headline news.”

He deals with the seamy side of wagering.

“I’m not seeing a lot of people hitting jackpots and being happy-go-lucky,” Mooney said. “There’s an underbelly to this that is not getting the publicity it deserves.”

A 10-question test to help people discover they have a possible gambling problem and need help is listed below.

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