News

Two Conspirators in St. Mary’s County Bank Robbery Sentenced to Prison


Bank Manager and Her Two Minor Children Kidnapped

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 1, 2009

Greenbelt, Maryland - U.S. District Judge Deborah K. Chasanow sentenced Quinita Jessie Ennis, age 31, of Lexington Park, Maryland, today to 10 years in prison followed by five years of supervised release for conspiracy to commit armed bank robbery, armed bank robbery and making a false statement in the purchase of a gun in connection with the September 24, 2008 robbery of $169,900 from a bank in St. Mary’s County in which the bank manager and her two minor children were kidnapped from their residence, announced United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Rod J. Rosenstein. Judge Chasanow also ordered Ennis to pay $57,485 in restitution.

According to her guilty plea, Ennis started a relationship in 2005 with Joseph Brown who earned his living by selling illegal drugs. Ennis knew of Brown’s illegal business and that he was a convicted felon, prohibited from possessing a gun. On June 20, 2008, at Brown’s request and using his money, Ennis bought a 9 mm rifle from a gun shop in Lexington Park. She falsely represented that she was the actual purchaser of the rifle, when in fact she knew she was purchasing the rifle on behalf of Brown. Ennis gave him the rifle.

In the summer of 2008, as Brown’s income from selling drugs dwindled, Brown and William Johnson devised a plan to rob a bank in California, Maryland. Ennis participated in the discussions and agreed to assist in the robbery. Prior to September 24, Ennis and her conspirators observed the whereabouts of the bank’s manager, determining the time and route the manager used to leave her minor children in the care of another, and the procedures used by bank employees to open the bank.

On September 24, 2008, Ennis used her car to drive Johnson and Brown to the bank manager’s residence. She knew that her conspirators were armed. Wearing masks and camouflage clothing, and brandishing the 9 mm rifle Ennis had purchased, Brown and Johnson kidnapped the manager and her two minor children, and drove the family to St. Mary’s County in the manager’s vehicle. Ennis kept in touch with her conspirators by cell phone. Brown got out of the vehicle in California, Maryland, and Ennis picked him up.

Johnson ordered the manager to drive to the bank and obtain funds from the bank, while he held the manager’s minor son hostage in her vehicle. The manager’s daughter was released. Johnson took $169,900 from the bank manager and forced the manager to drive him to an elementary school, where the manager and her son were released. Johnson drove the manager’s vehicle to a pharmacy in California, Maryland where he abandoned the vehicle. Ennis and Brown picked him up and Ennis drove them back to Brown’s house. Ennis received approximately $30,000 of the stolen bank funds, which she stored in a safe at her home.

Later that evening, Ennis and her conspirators, including Edwin Jones, traveled to casinos in New Jersey carrying tens of thousands of dollars from the bank robbery. Subsequently, Ennis made plans to resettle with Brown in North Carolina. Also, on October 1, 2008, Ennis gave cash to a friend who agreed to purchase plane tickets for Ennis and her conspirators to travel to Las Vegas. At Brown’s request, Ennis wired $9,000 in stolen bank robbery funds to Brown in North Carolina.

Police searched Brown’s home on October 3, 2008. Alerted to the police activity, Ennis removed the remainder of her share of the stolen funds from her safe and kept it in her purse when she went to work. When police arrived to speak to Ennis, they found approximately $16,105 in cash in her purse. Ennis was arrested.

Edwin Jonathan Jones, age 41, of Lexington Park, Maryland, previously pleaded guilty to being an accessory after the fact to the armed bank robbery and to money laundering. Jones traveled with the co-defendants to casinos in New Jersey to exchange cash obtained from the robbery in order to conceal the stolen funds, and also used the proceeds to purchase clothes and other items during that trip. Judge Chasanow sentenced Jones today to eight years in prison followed by three years of supervised release and ordered Jones to pay $57,485 in restitution.

Joseph Franklin Brown, Jr., age 35, of Great Mills, Maryland, pleaded guilty and faces a maximum sentence of five years in prison for conspiracy to commit armed bank robbery; 25 years in prison for armed bank robbery; a minimum of seven years and a maximum of life in prison consecutive to any other sentence for brandishing a gun during a crime of violence; and, a maximum of 10 years in prison for being a convicted felon in possession of a gun, or if deemed an armed career criminal, a minimum of 15 years and maximum of life in prison. Judge Chasanow scheduled his sentencing for September 21, 2009 at 10:00 a.m. As part of his plea agreement, Brown has agreed to forfeit his shotgun and rifle, $169,900 and items purchased from the bank robbery proceeds.

William Cordell Johnson, age 38, of Port Republic, Maryland pleaded guilty and faces a maximum sentence of five years in prison for conspiracy to commit armed bank robbery, 25 years in prison for bank robbery, life in prison for using a gun and 10 years in prison for being a felon in possession of a gun. Judge Chasanow scheduled his sentencing for July 20, 2009 at 2:00 p.m.

United States Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein thanked St. Mary’s County Sheriff Timothy K. Cameron and the St. Mary’s County Bureau of Criminal Investigation; St. Mary’s County State’s Attorney Richard D. Fritz and his office; Calvert County Sheriff Michael Evans and his office and Calvert County State’s Attorney Laura L. Martin and her office; the Federal Bureau of Investigation; the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives; and the Maryland State Police for their assistance in the investigation and prosecution. Mr. Rosenstein commended Assistant United States Attorneys Steven M. Dunne and Stuart Berman, who prosecuted the case.

 

 

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