News and Press Releases

arkansas man pleads guilty to stealing nearly $500,000 in two armed bank robberies, faces 30 years in prison

June 16, 2011

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. – Beth Phillips, United States Attorney for the Western District of Missouri, announced that a Fort Smith, Ark., man pleaded guilty in federal court today to two armed bank robberies in Springfield, Mo., and Joplin, Mo.

Robert Bruce Knepper, 45, of Fort Smith, pleaded guilty before U.S. Magistrate Judge James C. England to the charges contained in an April 7, 2011, federal indictment. Under the terms of today’s plea agreement, Knepper will be sentenced to 30 years in federal prison without parole.

By pleading guilty today, Knepper admitted that he robbed Liberty Bank in Springfield on March 29, 2010, and Great Southern Bank in Joplin on Sept. 16, 2010. Knepper also admitted that he used a loaded handgun, which he carried in a shoulder holster, to steal $80,000 from Liberty Bank. Knepper used a loaded Springfield Armory 9mm handgun to steal $404,350 from Great Southern Bank.

Knepper also pleaded guilty to brandishing a firearm in furtherance of the Great Southern Bank robbery.

According to court documents, Knepper entered Liberty Bank, 210 N. W. Bypass, Springfield, at approximately 4:45 p.m. on March 29, 2010. He presented a note to a bank employee and demanded the bank manager give him cash from the bank’s vault. Knepper, who placed his hand on the pistol grip of the handgun, threatened several times to kill everyone in the bank. The manager placed $80,000 from the bank vault into a bank bag and gave the bag to Knepper. Knepper took the keys to the bank manager’s vehicle and fled in the manager’s car, which was abandoned about a mile away from the bank.

According to court documents, Knepper entered Great Southern Bank, 1232 S. Range Line Rd., Joplin, at 5 p.m. on Sept. 16, 2010. Knepper brandished a handgun, jumped over the teller counter, pointed the handgun at bank employees and demanded they open the vault.

On Feb. 13, 2011, a bag containing a handgun was found at a Red Lobster restaurant in Fort Smith. Police officers also found $166,000 in the bag, along with various hotel and car rental receipts. The receipts led officers to Knepper, who was staying at a Comfort Inn in Fort Smith, and he was arrested.

A sentencing hearing will be scheduled after the completion of a presentence investigation by the United States Probation Office.

This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Robyn L. McKee. It was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Joplin, Mo., Police Department and the Fort Smith, Ark., Police Department.

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