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Man pleads guilty to robbing Hagerstown bank

May 13, 2010|By DON AINES

HAGERSTOWN -- A Hagerstown man who told investigators he robbed a bank to pay his bills pleaded guilty Thursday in Washington County Circuit Court to robbery.

Alvie Robert Fairall Jr., 42, pleaded guilty to the Jan. 6 robbery of The Columbia Bank at 1571 Wesel Blvd. In exchange for the plea, three handgun charges and charges of armed robbery, first- and second-degree assault, and theft of $1,000 to less than $10,000 will be dismissed, Assistant State's Attorney Brett Wilson said.

"There's not a whole lot to say about Mr. Fairall because there is no record," other than a recent misdemeanor theft conviction, Wilson told Circuit Judge John H. McDowell. Wilson said Fairall told investigators he was behind in paying his bills and "he robbed the bank to pay the bills."

Wilson confirmed that some of the stolen money was used to pay bills, and he told McDowell the weapon used in the robbery was a BB pistol.

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Fairall, who lived on Shadybrook Terrace at the time of the robbery, is serving a prison sentence for an unrelated theft conviction. He was sentenced Feb. 4 to one year and one day in prison after pleading guilty to a 2009 theft, according Washington County District Court records.

Wilson asked that Fairall's incarceration be capped at four years, but McDowell said he would need more information.

"A four-year sentence on a bank robbery seems extremely lenient and generous," McDowell said.

The judge ordered that a presentence investigation be prepared before he imposed a sentence.

Hagerstown Police went to The Columbia Bank branch in response to a 9:38 a.m. report of an armed robbery, according to the statement of probable cause. A teller told police a man with a blue scarf wrapped around his face entered the bank, leaned on the teller's window and showed her a small black handgun, the statement said.

The man told the teller to give him all of her $50 and $100 bills and then asked for $20 bills, the statement of probable cause said. The man told her to give him more $50 and $100 bills, but she told him she did not have any more in the teller drawers, the statement said.

The man left the bank with $2,470, Wilson said.

A witness told police he saw a man run from the bank, get into a cream-colored car parked behind Value City and begin taking off clothing as he drove away, the statement of probable cause said. The witness followed the car for a short distance and tried to write down the license plate number, the statement said.

A surveillance video showed the car, a four-door Buick LeSabre, going past the Roy Rogers restaurant, with the witness's vehicle following, the statement of probable cause said. Police searched Maryland vehicle records for a number similar to the one written down by the witness and traced it to Fairall, the statement said.

The next day, police interviewed Fairall's wife, who said her husband had admitted to robbing the bank, the statement of probable cause said.

Fairall was arrested on the morning of Jan. 7 at the Knights Inn in State Line, Pa., the statement of probable cause said.

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