Armed Bank Robbers Convicted

Stole Over $80,000 in a Violent Montgomery County Bank Robbery

June 16, 2008

Greenbelt, Maryland - A federal jury convicted Giovanni Bell, age 45, of Silver Spring, Jude Eligwe, age 23, of Lanham and Richol Griner, age 31, today of conspiracy to commit bank robbery and convicted Bell and Griner of bank robbery and using a firearm during a crime of violence, announced United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Rod J. Rosenstein. The jury also convicted Bell of being a felon in possession of a firearm and being a violent felon in possession of body armor.

According to evidence presented at the two week trial, the defendants conspired to rob the Commerce Bank at 350 E. Gude Drive in Rockville where Eligwe was employed. Witnesses testified that in the days prior to the robbery, Eligwe informed Griner about Commerce Bank’s vault mechanisms. On February 19, Bell and two co-conspirators drove to Commerce Bank where Eligwe unlocked the front door of the bank so the robbers could enter. Bell and the two co-conspirators held the bank employees hostage while they waited for the vault to open. They brandished their weapons and repeatedly pistol whipped a bank employee. Griner served as a look-out during the robbery where more than $80,000 was stolen from the bank.

Bell faces a mandatory life sentence based on three prior violent crime convictions, under the “three strikes you’re out” law and Griner faces a maximum of 25 years for the bank robbery and a minimum of seven years in prison and a maximum of life on the firearm charge. Eligwe faces a maximum sentence of five years in prison on the bank robbery conspiracy charge. U.S. District Judge Peter J. Messitte has scheduled sentencing for Bell on August 14, for Eligwe on August 21, and for Griner on September 4, 2008. The defendants remain detained.

United States Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein praised the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Montgomery County Police Department for their investigative work in this case. Mr. Rosenstein thanked Assistant U.S. Attorneys Deborah Johnston and Emily Glatfelter, who are prosecuting the case.



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