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Getaway driver gets 2 to 7 years

September 19, 2002|by STACEY DANZUSO

chambersburg@herald-mail.com

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - A Fort Loudon, Pa., woman who drove the getaway car in a series of bank robberies in Franklin and surrounding counties last summer was sentenced Wednesday to serve two to seven years in prison.

As part of an earlier agreement with the Franklin County District Attorney's Office, Rhonda A. Martin, of 13361 Main St., Fort Loudon, pleaded guilty to one count of criminal conspiracy to commit robbery.

In exchange for her plea, three counts each of robbery and receiving stolen property, and two additional counts of criminal conspiracy to commit robbery were dropped, according to court records.

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Defense attorney Clinton Barkdoll said part of the reason for the deal was Martin's cooperation with the FBI in prosecuting codefendant John W. Blair, 40, of Fort Loudon.

"The FBI agent said they could not have prosecuted the Blair case as effectively as they did without Rhonda's cooperation," he said.

Judge Richard Walsh sentenced Martin to serve two to seven years for criminal conspiracy to commit robbery, and three months for violating her probation on a theft charge from 2001.

Both sentences will run concurrently with the three to six years Martin is serving on robbery charges in Cumberland County, Pa.

She also was ordered to pay more than $14,000 in restitution.

When she asked if her codefendant also share responsibility in the repayment, Walsh said yes, but he didn't know to what extent.

"Exactly how much he will have to pay will stand the test of time. You're on the hook for every penny right now," Walsh said.

Martin, 31, said she is turning her life around.

"I am very sorry for what we did. I know it was wrong," she said. "I just want to get my time done so I can be with my kids."

Walsh said the sentence was above the standard range of 12 to 18 months, but he said it was justified because there were multiple victims, it was part of a crime spree that extended over months, Martin was on probation at the time, her codefendant used a handgun and there was the potential for serious injury.

Martin and Blair were charged with robbing three banks in Franklin County and four in the Carlisle, Pa., area last summer.

Martin told police she drove a red Dodge Daytona used in the robberies, according to the affidavit of probable cause.

The first robbery occurred Aug. 8, 2001, at the American Community Credit Union at 380 Floral Ave. in Chambersburg. In that robbery, $2,300 was taken, the affidavit said.

On Aug. 13, 2001, at 2:18 p.m., an armed robber held up the Franklin County Teachers Credit Union at 1156 Kennebec Drive in Chambersburg and fled with about $7,000 cash.

On Aug. 30, 2001, employees reported an armed robbery at Frick Federal Credit Union, 127 C.V. Ave., in Waynesboro, Pa. This time the man fled with $4,475, the affidavit said.

Pennsylvania State Police stopped Martin and Blair in Cumberland County while they were traveling south on Interstate 81 on Sept. 11, the affidavit said.

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