Pennsylvania man on trial in Tennessee bank hostage cases

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 authorities say he strapped a fake bomb to a bank executive.

The Knoxville News-Sentinel reports ( 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.

Authorities say three of those kidnappings occurred in 2015 in Tennessee. The newspaper reports that co-defendant Brian Witham has confessed and agreed to testify.

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


Information from: Knoxville News Sentinel,