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'Career bank robber' gets 30 years for robbing M&T Bank

July 13, 2010|By DON AINES

HAGERSTOWN -- A "career bank robber" who also is a great-grandfather was sentenced Tuesday in Washington County Circuit Court to 30 years in prison for a March holdup of the M&T Bank branch at 930 Dual Highway.

Leroy Robinson, 59, of Fort Washington, Md., pleaded guilty to armed robbery, first-degree assault and use of a handgun in a crime of violence before Circuit Judge M. Kenneth Long Jr.

It was Robinson's fourth bank robbery conviction, Assistant State's Attorney Joseph Michael said.

"He's a career bank robber," Michael told Long.

Robinson had federal convictions for bank robberies in 1970, 1978 and 1989, Michael said. The 1989 conviction was for robbing "multiple banks," he said.

Robinson is also a "person of interest" to federal authorities in other bank robberies, Michael said.

In exchange for Robinson's plea, Michael said 40 other charges would be dismissed. They included nine counts of first-degree assault, 10 counts each of second-degree assault and false imprisonment, three firearms charges, three counts of robbery, two other armed robbery counts, and one count each of conspiracy to commit armed robbery, conspiracy to commit robbery and theft of $1,000 to $10,000.

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Robinson's attorney, Bernard W. Semler II, argued for a 20-year sentence, telling Long that his client has diabetes, hepatitis, high blood pressure and failing eyesight. He said Robinson's sentence should "not be the final chapter of his life."

On the morning of March 8, two masked men entered the bank and herded customers and employees into a back room at gunpoint in what Michael characterized Tuesday as "a takeover robbery." Three employees with keys to the vault doors were ordered to open it, while the others were ordered to lie face down, Michael said.

A report of a robbery in progress was received by Hagerstown Police at 10:55 a.m., and the first officer to arrive saw two men walking quickly toward a parked pickup truck, according to the statement of probable cause in the case. The officer drew his weapon and ordered the men to the ground, the statement said.

The men were identified as Darnell Edward Stewart Sr., 49, of Clinton, Md., and Keith Darnell Wilson, 38, of Washington, D.C.

Wilson is awaiting trial on 43 counts including armed robbery, robbery, conspiracy to commit armed robbery, conspiracy to commit robbery, first-degree and second-degree assault, false imprisonment, theft and handgun violations, according to court records.

Stewart is awaiting trial on three counts each of second-degree assault and reckless endangerment, two weapons charges and theft, court records show.

Other officers saw a man walking toward Manor Drive, the statement of probable cause said. The man refused to stop and hid in a group of trees where he was seen trying to remove his jacket, the statement said.

"I didn't rob the bank. I just found the stuff on the ground and was looking through it," said the man, who was identified as Robinson, according to the statement. Police found a green bag with red stains from a dye packet and a loaded handgun in the jacket, the statement said.

Robinson apologized to the victims and said he returned to robbing banks because his wife could not work, their car had been repossessed and they were facing eviction.

"You're way too old for this," Long told Robinson, who added that the victims had reason to fear they would be killed.

After the sentencing, Michael said that if Robinson is paroled or serves out his sentence, he likely would return to robbery "if he's well enough to hold a pistol and get into a getaway car."

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