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Press Release

Robert Edward Howland Sentenced to Serve 167 Months in Federal Prison on Armed Robbery and Firearm Charges

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Eastern District of Tennessee

GREENEVILLE, Tenn. – On February 13, 2019, Robert Edward Howland, 47, of Bristol, Tennessee, was sentenced by the Honorable J. Ronnie Greer, Senior U.S. District Judge, to serve a total of 167 months in federal prison.  Howland was sentenced to 155 months for the 2016 armed robbery of the Big Orange Market in Bristol, Tennessee.  He received an additional 12 months in prison, which will run consecutively, for violating the terms of his supervised release from a prior conviction.  Upon his release from prison, he will be supervised by U.S. Probation for the remainder of his life.    

According to the plea agreement on file with the U.S. District Court, on November 26, 2016, Howland admitted to robbing the Big Orange Market by brandishing a semiautomatic pistol, pointing it at the clerk and putting it against her back.  In addition to committing the robbery, he walked the clerk out of the store at gunpoint and attempted to force her inside his truck.  A combination of the clerk yelling for help and other customers rushing to her rescue resulted in Howland speeding off alone.  After the police located him, Howland refused to stop and led officers on a lengthy four county pursuit from Bluff City, Tennessee, to Jefferson City, Tennessee.  When the officers finally stopped him and approached his vehicle, Howland was holding the same firearm he used to rob the store. 

At the time of this offense, Howland was on supervised release from a December 2011 conviction in U.S. District Court for the felony offense of failing to register as a sex offender.

Law enforcement agencies participating in the investigation included the Sullivan County Sheriff’s Office and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.  Assistant U.S. Attorney Wayne Taylor represented the United States in court proceedings.

This case was brought as part of Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN), a program that has been historically successful in bringing together all levels of law enforcement to reduce violent crime and make our neighborhoods safer for everyone.   Attorney General Jeff Sessions has made turning the tide of rising violent crime in America a top priority.   In October 2017, as part of a series of actions to address this crime trend, Attorney General Sessions announced the reinvigoration of PSN and directed all U.S. Attorney’s Offices to develop a district crime reduction strategy that incorporates the lessons learned since PSN launched in 2001.



Sharry Dedman-Beard
Public Information Officer

Updated February 19, 2019

Firearms Offenses
Project Safe Neighborhoods