News and Press Releases

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

TUESDAY - August 4, 2009

THREE PLEAD GUILTY IN ARMED BANK ROBBERY CASE

WILMINGTON - The United States Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of North Carolina announced that in federal court yesterday three defendants pled guilty before Senior United States District Judge James C. Fox to charges relating to an armed bank robbery. MATTHEW FARR, 21, pled guilty to a Criminal Information filed on July 28, 2009, which charged accessory after the fact, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 3. VERNON RAY ATKINSON a/k/a/ “BJ”, 29, and MARCUS ANTWAN WILEY 20, each pled guilty to conspiring to commit armed bank robbery, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Sections 2113(a) and (d); aiding and abetting armed bank robbery, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 371; and use of a firearm during and in relation to a crime of violence, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 924(c)(1)(A)(ii). All three defendants are from Elm City, North Carolina.

A Federal Grand Jury returned a Criminal Indictment on May 27, 2009.

On December 12, 2008, three men wearing masks entered the Branch Banking and Trust Bank (BB&T), in Elm City, North Carolina. The investigation revealed that co-defendant, Brian Lucas, went to the office of one of the bank employees and ordered her to get down on the floor. Meanwhile, another co-defendant, Anthony Atkinson, and WILEY jumped over the teller counter and demanded money from the tellers. Anthony, carrying a handgun, kept waving it in the face of one of the tellers. WILEY gave a teller a white plastic bag and demanded that she put the money in it. The teller complied with WILEY’s demand and put money and dye packs in the bag. After receiving the money, Lucas, WILEY, and Anthony fled the bank with approximately $28,000.00 and hopped into a car driven by BJ. BJ then drove the four to a pre-determined location where they met FARR. Anthony, Lucas and WILEY then moved into FARR’s car, where those four then traveled to Sleepy Hollow.

Further investigation revealed that the dye pack included in with the money exploded as the robbers escaped the bank on their way to BJs car and splattered on some of WILEY’s clothing.

The maximum penalty for conspiring to commit bank robbery is up to five years imprisonment followed by up to three years supervised release, and a fine of up to $250,000.00. For aiding and abetting an armed bank robbery, the maximum penalty is up to 25 years imprisonment followed by up to five years supervised release, and a fine of up to $250,000.00 fine. For possession of firearm during crime of violence, the maximum penalty is up to life imprisonment, up to five years supervised release, and a fine of up to $250,000.00.

Investigation of this case was conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Wilson County Sheriff’s Department. Assistant United States Attorney Felice McConnell Corpening represented 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.

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