Former Prince George’s County Police Officer Sentenced to 30 Months in Prison in Bank Break-in

October 18, 2010

Greenbelt, Maryland - U.S. District Judge Peter J. Messitte sentenced former Prince George’s County Police officer Eddie Lee Smith, Jr., age 42, of Fort Washington, Maryland, today to 30 months in prison, followed by three years of supervised release, for a scheme to break into a bank to steal money from the ATM. Judge Messitte also entered an order that Smith pay restitution of $10,170.94, for the damage caused to the ATM.

The sentence was announced by United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Rod J. Rosenstein; Special Agent in Charge Richard A. McFeely of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Chief Roberto L. Hylton of the Prince George’s County Police Department; Chief Eugene A. Jones of the Prince George’s County Fire/EMS Department; and Prince George’s County State’s Attorney Glenn F. Ivey.

Chief Hylton stated, “We are thankful to the FBI and the U.S. Attorney for their work in investigating this case. We want the community to understand that the lack of integrity of one officer does not reflect the character of the rest of the officers of the Prince George’s County Police Department.”

According to Smith’s plea agreement, on June 9, 2009, Smith, a uniformed Prince George’s County Police Officer met with Earl Blake in Prince George’s County and told Blake that he had a job for him. Smith drove Blake in his marked police cruiser to the SunTrust Bank located at 4625 Old Branch Avenue in Temple Hills, Maryland. Smith provided Blake with a black bag containing an electric grinder/saw and other materials and instructed Blake on how to cut open the ATM safe. Blake entered the SunTrust Bank through the front door which was unlocked. Although not on duty, Smith stayed in the area of the bank. At approximately 3:30 a.m., the bank alarm company received a fire alarm notification. Members of the Prince George’s County Fire Department responded and saw a Prince George’s County police cruiser sitting on the side of Beach Road, adjacent to the bank. The police cruiser followed the fire engine into the bank parking lot and Smith advised the firemen that he had checked the building and it was secured. Firemen smelled the odor of burning metal and moments later one of the firemen saw Earl Blake inside the bank. Blake fled through the rear bank door. Smith ran around the rear of the bank as if to pursue Blake, but he returned moments later and left the scene without speaking to the firemen or contacting his dispatcher. Blake was subsequently arrested by other Prince George’s County Police Department officers who also entered the bank and recovered an electric grinder/saw and observed damage to the ATM located in the rear of the bank. The ATM contained approximately $40,540 which Smith and Blake intended to steal.

Co-defendant Earl Blake, age 54, of Capitol Heights, Maryland, pleaded guilty to the same charge and was sentenced to five months in prison, followed by four months of home detention with electronic monitoring as part of his three years of supervised release.

United States Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein commended Assistant United States Attorneys Deborah A. Johnston and Stuart A. Berman, who prosecuted the case.

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