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Aug. 1, 2011

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Robbers Who Terrorized Bank Tellers with Guns Sentenced to Lengthy Prison Terms

HOUSTON - Houston residents Michael A. Wilbourn, 25, Michael J. Washington, 30, Ronald D. Thomas, 29, and Kenneth R. Randle, 23, will all be serving lengthy prison terms without parole for robbing the First National Bank on South Gessner Road in Houston on Oct. 14, 2010, United States Attorney José Angel Moreno announced today. Wilbourn, Washington and Thomas received additional prison terms for their use of firearms during that bank robbery.

At a hearing held on Friday, July 29, 2011, in Houston, U.S. District Judge Melinda Harmon sentenced Wilbourn to 97 months in prison for the bank robbery conviction to be followed by an additional 84 months for the use of the firearm during the robbery for a total sentence of 181 months. Washington was sentenced to 150 months in prison for the bank robbery conviction to be followed by an additional 84 months for the use of the firearm during the robbery for a total sentence of 234 months. Thomas will serve a total of 221 months in federal prison without parole - 137 months for the bank robbery conviction to be followed by an additional 84 for the use of the firearm during the robbery. Randle, the unarmed get-away car driver, was sentenced to 135 months in prison for the bank robbery conviction. The court has ordered the defendants to pay a total of $4,735 in restitution to the bank which constitutes the total of unrecovered funds out of the more than $40,000 taken at gun point during the bank robbery. Each defendant must also serve a four-year-term of post imprisonment supervised release, a form of post imprisonment probation. The firearms used in the robbery and seized by law enforcement after the robbery have been ordered forfeited to the government.

All four defendants pleaded guilty in April 2011, acknowledging that the government could prove that on the morning of Oct. 14, 2010, the defendants stole a car which Randle drove to transport the other three co-defendants to the bank. While Randle waited outside in the get-away car, Wilbourn, Washington and Thomas entered the bank and terrorized the three bank tellers with guns, verbal threats and physical assault and abuse to get the bank vault opened. The men stole more than $40,000 from the bank.

Upon leaving the bank, the four defendants changed cars. However, they were spotted by an alert Houston Police Department (HPD) officer who chased their car to a nearby apartment complex. The defendants ran. Wilbourn and Washington broke into an occupied apartment and took the two residents hostage until the police entered the apartment and rescued the hostages and captured the two defendants. The other two were captured after brief foot chases. Officers recovered the three guns and all but about $4,735 of the stolen money.

During Friday’s sentencing hearing, each of the three bank tellers held hostage during the bank robbery testified regarding their treatment at the hands of the armed defendants who entered and robbed the bank. With the exception of Randle, the get-away driver who was not armed and did not enter the bank, each of the other three defendants received the maximum recommended federal guideline sentence which includes the court’s consideration of the their “unnecessarily cruel” treatment of the bank tellers during the robbery and their extensive criminal history.

Randle was continued on bond pending an order to surrender upon designation of a Bureau of Prisons facility where he will serve his sentence. The other three defendants have been and will remain in custody pending transfer to a Bureau of Prisons facility to be designated in the near future.

The charges and subsequent conviction of these four bank robbers is the result of the investigative efforts of the Houston office of the FBI and the Houston Police Department. The case was prosecuted and tried by Assistant United States Attorney Mike Schultz.