Jasper Man Pleads Guilty to Walker County Bank Robbery and Bomb Threats
BIRMINGHAM -- A Jasper man pleaded guilty today in federal court to armed robbery of a Walker County bank, calling in bomb threats on a hospital and a highway bridge before the robbery, and possessing guns as a convicted felon, announced U.S. Attorney Joyce White Vance and FBI Special Agent in Charge Richard D. Schwein Jr.
BRANDON JOSEPH PEAKE, 32, pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Karon O. Bowdre to the July 5 armed robbery of Traders and Farmers Bank on Curry Highway in Jasper and to brandishing a gun during the robbery, a Heckler & Koch .40-caliber pistol that he pointed at one of the tellers. Peake also pleaded guilty to using a telephone to make false bomb threats against Walker Baptist Medical Center and a bridge spanning Alabama Highway 69. Peake called in the bomb threats on July 5, before the afternoon bank robbery, according to his plea agreement with the government.
The hospital was evacuated, a police bomb squad dispatched, and the bridge and a stretch of Highway 69 closed because of the bomb threats, according to court documents.
Peake, who was convicted in Jefferson County Circuit Court in August 2012 for felony possession of a controlled substance, pleaded guilty today to three counts of being a felon in possession of a firearm.
A Walker County Sheriff's deputy found the H&K .40-caliber pistol used in the robbery of Traders and Farmers Bank in woods near the bank. The gun was traced to Peake, who bought it in 2007.
Peake also acknowledged that he traveled to Tupelo, Miss., two days after the bank robbery to meet an acquaintance who sold him a Glock 9mm pistol and a Bushmaster .223-caliber semi-automatic rifle. The fourth gun Peake possessed illegally was a Beretta 9mm pistol, found July 11 in the Chattanooga hotel room where police arrested him for the Walker County bank robbery.
Peake's sentencing is scheduled April 21.
The maximum sentence for armed bank robbery is 25 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. The sentence for brandishing a firearm during a crime of violence is seven years to life in prison, which must be served after completion of any other sentence imposed for the crime. The maximum sentence for using a telephone to maliciously convey a false threat to burn or bomb a building is 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. The maximum penalty for being a convicted felon in possession of a firearm is 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
The FBI, Walker County Sheriff's Office and the Walker County District Attorney's Office investigated the case. Special Assistant U.S. Attorney E. Wilson Hunter is prosecuting the case.
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