Last Conspirator Pleads Guilty and Is Sentenced to Five Years in Prison for the Armed Robbery Conspiracy That Targeted a Bank and Pharmacies

November 9, 2011

Baltimore, Maryland - U.S. District Judge Benson E. Legg sentenced Ernest Widener, age 54, of Baltimore, Maryland, today to five years in prison, followed by18 months of supervised release, after Widener pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit armed robberies of a bank and pharmacies.

The guilty plea and sentence were announced by United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Rod J. Rosenstein; Special Agent in Charge Mark Chait of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives - Baltimore Field Division; Baltimore City State’s Attorney Gregg L. Bernstein; and Baltimore Police Commissioner Frederick H. Bealefeld III.

According to plea agreements of Ernest Widener and his co-conspirators, between July and November of 2010, Ernest Widener, Freddie Douglas Widener, Richard Adams, Robert Gene Harris and Lacy Varner conspired to rob a bank and pharmacies to obtain money and drugs. Ernest Widener acquired two handguns in Baltimore that were used by other members of the conspiracy during the robberies. On July 30, 2010, Robert Gene Harris and Freddie Widener robbed the M & T Bank on Philadelphia Avenue in Chambersburg, Pennsylvania, armed with the handguns supplied by Ernest Widener. Harris and Freddie Widener then fled from the bank. Harris was arrested at the scene, but Widener fled in Harris’car. On September 15, 2010, Freddie Widener and Richard Adams attempted to rob the Loch Raven Pharmacy located on East Northern Parkway in Baltimore City. Both Freddie Widener and Richard Adams were armed and Freddie Widener discharged his gun during the attempted robbery. Lacy Varner was the getaway driver for the robbery. Richard Adams was apprehended at the scene, but Widener escaped with Varner in the getaway car.

On September 18, 2010, Ernest Widener and Terry Blair set on fire a 1996 Plymouth Neon that had been used as the getaway vehicle in the July 30, 2010 bank robbery and in the September 15, 2010 attempted robbery of the Loch Raven Pharmacy, in an effort to destroy the vehicle.

Co-defendants Freddie Douglas Widener, age 55, of Dundalk, Maryland; Richard Adams, age 53, of Baltimore; Terry Blair, age 52, of Baltimore; Robert Gene Harris, age 29, of Chambersburg, Pennsylvania; and Lucy Varner, age 29, of Dundalk, previously pleaded guilty to their roles in the robberies. Terry Blair was sentenced to five years in prison on September 16, 2011, and Richard Adams was sentenced to 174 months in prison on November 1, 2011.

Freddie Widener, Harris and Varner all face a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison for the robbery conspiracy. Freddie Widener and Harris also face a mandatory seven years, consecutive to any other sentence, and up to life in prison, for use of a firearm during a crime of violence. U.S. District Judge Benson E. Legg has scheduled sentencing for Freddie Widener on February 22, 2012 at 2:00 p.m.; and for Lacy Varner and Robert Gene Harris on May 11, 2012 at 10:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m., respectively.

United States Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein commended the ATF, Baltimore Police Department and Baltimore City State’s Attorney’s Office for their work in this investigation and thanked Assistant United States Attorney James G. Warwick, who prosecuted the case.

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