FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
TUESDAY - March 3, 2009
TWO FORT BRAGG SOLDIERS PLEAD GUILTY TO BANK ROBBERY CHARGES
WILMINGTON - United States Attorney George E.B. Holding announced that in federal court today two soldiers from Fort Bragg pled guilty to attempted bank robbery and related charges before Senior United States District Judge James C. Fox. PRIELINSO ANDRE CONNER, 20, of Fayetteville, North Carolina and LOUIS EDUARD RODRIGUEZ, 20, of Fort Bragg, North Carolina, both pled guilty to one count of aiding and abetting the use of a firearm during and in relation to a crime of violence, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Sections 2113(a) and (d) and 2. In addition, CONNER pled guilty to one count each of aiding and abetting attempted armed bank robbery, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Sections 2113(a) and (d) and 2; aiding and abetting possession of a stolen firearm, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Sections 922(j) and 924(a)(2) and 2. CONNER’s plea agreement also included a count of aiding and abetting bank robbery, in violation of Title 18, Unites States Code, Sections 2113(a) and 2 from a March 8, 2008, bank robbery. RODRIGUEZ also pled to one count of conspiring to commit bank robbery, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Sections 2113(a) and (d) and 2.
A Federal Grand Jury returned a Criminal Indictment on December 15, 2008. According to the Indictment, on November 19, 2008, in Fayetteville, North Carolina, PRIELINSO CONNER, a soldier at Fort Bragg, approached an individual stating that he, CONNER, and others, intended to commit a bank robbery. CONNER attempted to solicit participation in the armed robbery from this individual. On November 23, 2008, the four defendants, who included CONNER’s wife, Tajia Renee Conner, and Justin Roberson, met, discussed and planned the armed robbery of the Fort Sill National Bank on Yadkin Road in Fayetteville, North Carolina. The robbery was planned for the early morning hours of November 28, 2008; sometimes referred to as Black Friday. On November 26, 2008, RODRIGUEZ and Roberson, also soldiers at Fort Bragg, entered a vehicle and stole a Mossberg shotgun and ammunition for use in the bank robbery. On November 28, 2008, the four defendants again met and made final preparations for the armed robbery. Fayetteville Police officers found the defendants in possession of masks, gloves, change of clothes and the stolen shotgun.
“Armed robbery, be it bank or otherwise, is a very traumatic and violent act. Those that are faced with this situation, that of looking down the barrel of a loaded weapon, endure psychological injury as they are forced to perform at the gunman’s will. Fortunately, in this instance, the bank robbery was foiled,” commented Mr. Holding.
The maximum penalty for the conspiracy charge is up to five years imprisonment followed by up to three years of supervised release and a fine of up to $250,000. For the charge of attempted armed bank robbery, each face a penalty of up to 25 years imprisonment followed by five years of supervised release and a fine of up to $250,000. For the aiding and abetting charge, the maximum penalty is up to life imprisonment followed by up to five years of supervised release and a fine of up to $250,000. The maximum penalty for possession of a stolen firearm is up to 10 years imprisonment followed by up to three years of supervised release and a fine of up to $250,000.
Sentencing is set for June 8, 2009.
Tajia Conner and Justin Roberson are set to be arraigned on April 13, 2009.
Investigation of the case was conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation; the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives; the United States Army Criminal Investigation Division and the Fayetteville Police Department. Assistant United States Attorney Thomas Murphy served as prosecutor for the government.
News releases are available on the U. S. Attorney’s web page at www.usdoj.gov/usao/nce within 48 hours of release.