This week in the Greenbelt federal courthouse a Baltimore man was sentenced to 151 months in prison followed by 3 years of supervised release for robbing a Hunt Valley bank. The robbery occurred back in December of 2019 in northern Baltimore County, close to where the man reportedly worked. The bank is located on York Road in Hunt Valley, an area with a relatively low crime rate. According to facts presented at the plea, the man walked into the bank and handed the teller a note that demanded all the loose 100’s, 50’s and 20’s in the teller’s drawer. The note also announced that a robbery was taking place, and that the man had a gun and would begin shooting if the teller did not meet his demands. The teller complied with the demands and handed over $700 in U.S. currency to the suspect. The 58-year old robber then fled the bank on foot without incident. The robbery was captured on interior surveillance footage, which showed a clear image of the man’s face. After the robbery the bank contacted law enforcement and circulated an internal alert to its employees with a picture of the suspect.
Five days after the robbery the suspect entered a different branch of the same bank that he robbed in order to make a deposit. Apparently, the man held an account with the bank. An employee recognized the man from the image in the internal alert and called law enforcement. The man was arrested wearing the same clothes he had worn during the robbery just 5 days earlier, so it was not a stretch to say the government had a solid case. It turns out that the defendant was also on supervised release for a prior bank robbery, which undoubtedly factored in to the overall sentence of 12.5 years in prison. The defendant will likely serve about 10 years, but could be released sooner to a halfway house depending on the evolution of criminal justice reform over the next decade.
This case could have been prosecuted in the Circuit Court for Baltimore County by the State’s Attorney’s Office, but the fact that the defendant already had a federal bank robbery conviction made it an easy decision for the case to go federal. Remember that federal prosecutors have jurisdiction to prosecute just about any bank robbery that occurs in the United States due to associations with the U.S. Treasury and FDIC insurance policies. There is no information to say whether the man actually possessed a gun as outlined in his note, but it is reasonable to conclude he did not. The man seemed to be an experienced (albeit unsuccessful bank robber) based on the fact that he asked for loose bills and knew that any actual display of force was unnecessary. Loose bills are less likely to be fitted with tracking devices or dye packs, than stacks of cash. Any stack of bills given to a robber by a teller would likely contain a discreet tracking device that is activated immediately upon movement outside the bank.
The Blog will continue to follow bank robbery cases in the Baltimore area and around Maryland and Florida, and may post a follow up article in the future. The interplay between state and federal jurisdiction and prosecution is always an interesting issue for the Blog, and we will see how involved the feds continue to be in gun, drug and robbery cases with the next administration. Benjamin Herbst is a Maryland and Florida criminal defense lawyer who specializes in robbery, theft and burglary cases. He also has extensive experience and success defending those charged with gun and drug crimes, and is standing by to offer a free consultation 7 days a week. He can be reached at 410-207-2598 in Maryland or at 954-543-0305 in Florida. He handles cases in all Maryland jurisdictions in including Baltimore City and County, Montgomery County, Prince George’s County, Frederick County, Western Maryland and the entire Eastern Shore. In Florida, Benjamin represents defendants from Miami-Dade to St. Lucie County.