Man sentenced in armed robbery

July 30, 1997


Staff Writer

Michael Shawn Clark was sentenced Tuesday to 15 years in prison for the Nov. 13, 1996, armed robbery of a Hagerstown Trust Co. branch.

Clark, 32, of Hagerstown, pleaded guilty on April 22 to armed robbery and use of a handgun.

In imposing sentence, Washington County Circuit Judge John H. McDowell ordered Clark to serve five of the 15 years without the possibility of parole.

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


Clark told police he committed the crime because of a serious drug problem and heavy debts, but 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 ran up debts exceeding $25,000.

Clark apologized and told the court he hadn't meant 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 has been in jail since the Nov. 13, 1996, robbery. He was arrested after leading police on a high-speed chase through Hagerstown's North End. The chase ended when his car crashed into a fence near the Hagerstown Fairgrounds.

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

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

During the robbery, Clark told a 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...She quit after this incident," Washington County State's Attorney Kenneth Long said Tuesday.

Five years ago, Clark was indicted on a bank larceny charge 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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