United States Attorney Anne M. Tompkins
Western District of North Carolina
“BEARDED BANDIT” SENTENCED TO 62 YEARS IN PRISON FOR ARMED ROBBERIES IN THE CHARLOTTE AREA CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Michael Gene Terrelonge, 43, of Charlotte, also known as the “Bearded Bandit,” was sentenced yesterday by Chief U.S. District Judge Robert J. Conrad, Jr. to 62 years in prison to be followed by three years of supervised release, for the armed robberies of two Charlotte area banks and a Charlotte area credit union, announced Anne M. Tompkins, U.S. Attorney for the Western District of North Carolina. Judge Conrad also ordered Terrelonge to pay $16,875.00 in restitution.
Terrelonge’s co-conspirator, Latries George, pled guilty to armed robbery charges in August 2010, and was sentenced to 66 months in prison to be followed by three years of supervised release. He was also ordered to pay $4,313.00 restitution, joined and severally with Terrelonge. U.S. Attorney Tompkins is joined in making today’s announcement by Chris Briese, Special Agent in Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Charlotte Division, and Chief Rodney D. Monroe of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department (CMPD).
In March 2010, a superseding criminal indictment charged Terrelonge with robbing three banks in Charlotte: the Wachovia Bank branch at 10210 Couloak Drive, the Clearview Federal Credit Union at 2830 Boyer Street, and the RBC Bank branch at 1000 East Boulevard. After a two-day trial, on October 19, 2010, a federal jury found Terrelonge guilty of robbing each bank at gunpoint. According to trial evidence and court documents, Terrelonge was apprehended while fleeing from the scene of the October 1, 2009, armed robbery of the Wachovia Bank branch on Couloak Drive. In the get-a-way van driven by George, CMPD officers found the hat, mask, gloves, and 9mm semiautomatic pistol used to rob the Wachovia Bank branch. Terrelonge had a loaded .38 special revolver in his waistband and was wearing a bulletproof vest. Evidence presented at trial indicated that Terrelonge admitted to being the “Bearded Bandit,” and provided details of his involvement in a number of armed bank robberies in the area between 2004 to 2009.
“Over a period of five years the Bearded Bandit engaged in a series of bank robberies that terrorized our community,” said U.S. Attorney Tompkins. “The 62 year sentence imposed on Mr. Terrelonge ensures that he will no longer be able to threaten our citizens’ safety. This sentence also makes it clear that taking violent criminals off the streets is a top priority for this office, and should serve as warning that violent gun crime will not be tolerated and will be severely punished.” “The successful prosecution of Terrelonge and the 62-year sentence imposed upon him sends a clear message that violent criminals will be dealt with in a manner befitting the violent nature of their acts,” stated Special Agent in Charge Briese. “Although this case has ended successfully with a violent criminal removed from the streets, the FBI will continue to use all of its available resources to ensure the safety of this community, and one of the FBI’s most important resources in combating violent crime in Charlotte is our partnership with the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department,” Briese added. “We are glad our officers were able to provide assistance in this case,” said Chief Monroe. “Any time we assist in apprehending chronic offenders, it only reiterates the strong working relationship that we have with our federal agency partners. ”
Terrelonge has been in local federal custody since he was arrested in December 2009. Upon designation of a federal facility, he will be transferred into custody of the Federal Bureau of Prisons. All federal sentences are served without the possibility of parole. The investigation was handled by CMPD and the FBI. The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Maria K. Vento, and former Assistant U.S. Attorney Mark A. Jones, of the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Charlotte.