FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Friday, February 17, 2012
For Information Contact:
District Man Pleads Guilty to Attempted Bank Robbery
- Defendant Was Caught Within Minutes, Near the Bank -
WASHINGTON - Ronnie Lawson, 34, of Washington, D.C., pled guilty today to one count of attempted bank robbery, announced U.S. Attorney Ronald C. Machen Jr., James W. McJunkin, Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI’s Washington, Field Office, and Cathy L. Lanier, Chief of the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD).
Lawson pled guilty this morning before the Honorable James E. Boasberg in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. His sentencing is scheduled for April 27, 2012. He faces a possible sentence of up to 20 years in prison.
According to the government’s evidence, on December 30, 2011, at approximately 3:45 p.m., Lawson entered a Citibank branch in the 3000 block of Minnesota Avenue NE and approached the teller counter. He passed the teller a hand-written note stating, “This is a robbery in process, and I wish not to hurt anyone...I am armed and order you to hand-over $5,000.00 in cash. You have (60) seconds - Happy Holidays!...Now return my note, with the cash.”
The teller was separated from Lawson by a pane of safety glass. She immediately walked to a conference room and notified the bank manager and another teller of what was taking place. The manager called the police. Lawson remained standing in front of the teller window for approximately two minutes, after which he fled the bank, leaving the note behind.
MPD officers responded to the scene within minutes of the attempted robbery. When they arrived, a witness who was present inside the bank during the attempted robbery identified a man who was walking nearby as the suspect. Officers immediately approached this individual, later identified as Lawson, and stopped him. At the time he was stopped, Lawson was within 500 feet of the Citibank, and had in his right front pocket a kitchen knife with an approximately four-inch blade. Lawson was brought back to a location just outside the Citibank, where he was positively identified as the individual who attempted to rob the branch.
Lawson was interviewed by law enforcement. During this interview, Lawson admitted to attempting to rob the Citibank. He also had in his possession another demand note, with exactly the same language used in the demand note recovered at Citibank.
Lawson robbed the same Citibank several years ago, and he was on supervised release for that offense when he tried to rob the bank again on December 30, 2011.
In announcing the guilty plea, U.S. Attorney Machen, Assistant Director McJunkin, and Chief Lanier commended the exceptional investigative work of the FBI/MPD Violent Crimes Task Force. They also thanked paralegal Jeannette Litz, who provided administrative support, and, they praised Assistant U.S. Attorney Catherine K. Connelly, who is prosecuting this matter.