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Press Release

Man Sentenced to 51 Months in Prison for Bank Robbery

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, District of Columbia
Defendant Was on Parole at Time of Hold-Up Last Fall

            WASHINGTON – John C. Matthews, 67, of no fixed address, has been sentenced to a 51-month prison term after earlier pleading guilty to robbing a bank last fall in Northwest Washington, announced U.S. Attorney Channing D. Phillips, Paul M. Abbate, Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI’s Washington Field Office, and Cathy L. Lanier, Chief of the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD).

            Matthews pled guilty to a charge of bank robbery in February 2016 in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. He was sentenced on June 2, 2016 by the Honorable Emmet G. Sullivan.  Following his prison term, Matthews will be placed on three years of supervised release.  At the time of the offense, he was on parole for an armed robbery committed in 1978, and his parole had been revoked on six previous occasions.

            According to the government's factual proffer, on Thursday, Nov. 12, 2015, at approximately 9:22 a.m., Matthews walked into the PNC Bank located in the 1700 block of Columbia Road NW. He walked up to a teller, began pointing to the front door of the bank, and provided a handwritten note with instructions to read it. Among other things, the note stated “That box contain enough C-4 explosives to cause great harm to people if the gentleman in hard hat push a bottom [sic];” “Fill bags with $100 bills, $50 bills, and $20 bills;” “—No dye packs –No silent alarms – No Traces;” “Fill bags so they easily slide through window opening;” and “Hurry up!!!”  At about this time, the man who was wearing a construction-type vest and hard-hat -- and who is still at large -- opened the inner bank door from the vestibule and placed a shoe box in the lobby and then re-entered the bank vestibule.

            The teller gave Matthews approximately $1,150 in currency and he and the second man then left the bank.  The robbery was captured on bank video and Matthews’s face, unmasked, was clearly visible.  By about 11 a.m., law enforcement located Mathews hiding in a rear basement storage room a few blocks away. He was wearing the same clothing as seen in the video of the bank robbery and with the stolen money still on his person.  He has been in custody ever since. The bank building was evacuated and MPD’s Explosives Ordinance Disposal Unit was called in while much of the block was cleared.  Bomb technicians ultimately determined that there were no explosives in the shoe box that was placed on the floor by the other man.

            In announcing the sentence, U.S. Attorney Phillips, Assistant Director in Charge Abbate, and Chief Lanier praised the work of the D.C. Violent Crimes Task Force, which includes members of the FBI’s Washington Field Office, the Metropolitan Police Department, the U.S. Capitol Police, and the U.S. Marshals Service. They also commended the efforts of those who assisted at the U.S. Attorney’s Office, including Paralegal Specialists Teesha Tobias and Candace Battle and Legal Assistant Latoya Wade.  Finally, they expressed appreciation for the work of Assistant U.S. Attorneys Vincent Caputy, who indicted the case, and Stephen J. Gripkey, who handled the case thereafter.

Updated June 3, 2016

Press Release Number: 16-093