News and Press Releases


MONDAY - July 19, 2010


WILMINGTON - The United States Attorney’s Office announced that in federal court today ANTHONY ATKINSON, 26, of Elm City, North Carolina, pled guilty before Senior United States District Judge James C. Fox conspiring to commit armed bank robbery, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 371; aiding and abetting armed bank robbery, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Sections 2113(a) and (d); and aiding and abetting possession of a firearm during a crime of violence, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 924.

According to court documents and evidence presented during the trial of co-defendant Jerry Barnes, on December 12, 2008, three men wearing masks entered the BB&T. The investigation revealed that co-defendant, Brian Lucas, went to the office of one of the bank employees and ordered the employee to get down on the floor. Once the employee was on the floor, Lucas dragged her a short distance from her office to the teller counter. Meanwhile, ATKINSON and another co-defendant, Marcus Wiley, jumped over the teller counter and demanded money from the tellers. ATKINSON was armed with a handgun and kept waving it in the face of one of the tellers. Wiley gave a teller a white plastic bag and demanded that the teller 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 ATKINSON fled the bank with approximately $28,000.00 and hopped into a car driven by Vernon Atkinson. Vernon Atkinson then drove the four to a pre-determined location where they met the fourth co-defendant, Matthew Farr. ANTHONY ATKINSON, Lucas and Wiley then moved into Farr’s car, where those four then traveled to an area known as 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 Vernon Atkinson’s car and splattered on some of Wiley’s clothing.

Evidence presented at the Barnes’ trial further revealed that the night prior to the robbery, Barnes, Lucas, Wiley, and ATKINSON, were at Barnes’ residence where they discussed committing the robbery. At that time, Barnes used a sketch of the area of the bank that displayed where he would be parked (directly in front of Elm City Pharmacy which is directly across from BB&T) as his co-defendants went inside the bank to commit the robbery. The sketch was recovered from Barnes shortly after the robbery. On the morning of the robbery, Lucas, Wiley, ANTHONY ATKINSON, and Vernon Atkinson (BJ) met at Barnes’ residence. When they left Barnes’ residence, they saw Matthew Farr, where the upcoming events were explained and Farr was recruited to be the second get away driver. Farr was told where to go to wait for them. BJ drove Lucas, Wiley, and ATKINSON to a location near the bank and dropped them off in the area. Barnes drove to, and parked his GMC Suburban SUV directly in front of, Elm City Pharmacy, and went inside to distract the employees while his co-defendants went inside to rob the bank. BJ parked behind the drug store and waited for Lucas, Wiley, and ATKINSON to return.

At the sentencing, scheduled for November, 2010, ATKINSON faces up to five years’ imprisonment followed by up to three years’ supervised release and a fine of up to $250,000, for the conspiracy charge; up to 25 years’ imprisonment followed by up to five years’ supervised release and a fine of up to $250,000, for the charge of aiding and abetting armed bank robbery; and up to life imprisonment followed by up to five years’ supervised release and a fine of up to $250,000, for the firearm charge.

Lucas is currently scheduled to be sentenced in August, 2010. All other defendants have been sentenced.

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 within 48 hours of release.

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