Bank robber gets 15 years

July 29, 1997


Staff Writer

Bank robber Michael Shawn Clark was sentenced to 15 years in prison this morning - five of which must be served without the possibility of parole for use of a handgun in a Nov. 13 holdup and chase.

Noting that Clark told police he committed the crime because of a serious drug problem and heavy debts, Washington County Circuit Judge John H. McDowell said that was no excuse.

"There have been chances for you to have done something before this happened,'' McDowell said.

Defense attorney Carl Creeden said Clark began using crack cocaine in the summer of 1996 and quickly ran up debts exceeding $25,000.


Clark apologized and told the court he didn't mean any harm to anyone.

"I'm also thankful no one was hurt in the chase,'' Clark said. "I just wish I could take it all back.''

Clark, 32, has been in jail since Nov. 13 when he led police on a high-speed chase through Hagerstown's North End before crashing his car into a fence near the Hagerstown Fairgrounds.

Charges of robbery, felony theft, first-degree assault, transporting a handgun, reckless endangerment and a number of traffic violations, including speeding, were all dropped in exchange for the pleas.

On Nov. 13, Clark was taken into custody by Washington County Sheriff's Deputy 1st Class Paul Boyer after a tense moment in which he briefly put a gun in his mouth, police said.

Police recovered the loaded gun, a knit cap with eye holes cut out, and the $2,901 stolen in the 10:55 a.m. robbery at the Hagerstown Trust Co., branch at 19922 Jefferson Boulevard, police said.

Clark told one woman teller to fill up a bag with money. After getting the money, he fled through a rear door, police said.

Two female clerks followed him out the door and saw him get into a vehicle in the Keller's Upholstery parking lot. Once in the car, he removed the mask, and the women were able to give police his description, the tag number and description of the car he was driving, according to police.

"One of those bank tellers no longer works for the bank,'' said Washington County State's Attorney Ken Long this morning. "She quit after this incident.''

Five years ago, Clark was indicted for bank larceny in the January 1991 robbery of the First National Bank branch at Valley Mall. Those charges later were dropped, according to police reports.

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