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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
District of Massachusetts

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

"Spelling Bee Bandit" Pleads Guilty to Multiple Bank Robberies

BOSTON – A Chelsea man, dubbed the “Spelling Bee Bandit,” pleaded guilty today in federal court in Boston to four bank robberies.


Jason S. Englen, 34, of Chelsea, pleaded guilty to four counts of bank robbery. U.S. District Court Judge Richard G. Stearns scheduled sentencing for Feb. 28, 2018.


On Oct. 31, 2016, a man, later identified as Englen, entered a branch of TD Bank in Arlington, approached a teller and presented a note written on a deposit slip indicating a robbery and demanding cash. On the note, the word “robbery” was misspelled. The teller handed Englen money from the drawer and Englen fled the bank leaving the demand note behind. 

Over the next few weeks, three additional banks were robbed in the same fashion: a branch of TD Bank in Reading on November 5, a branch of Salem Five in Burlington on November 7, and a branch of TD Bank in Peabody on November 13. Based on the similarity of the robberies and the physical description of the robber, law enforcement, seeking help from the public, identified Englen, who was already in state custody on unrelated charges, as the bank robber. On Dec. 12, 2016, Englen was arrested by federal authorities and charged.

The charging statute provides for a sentence of no greater than 20 years in prison, three years of supervised release, a fine of $250,000 and restitution. Sentences are imposed by a federal district court judge bases upon the U.S. Sentencing guidelines and other statutory factors.

Acting United States Attorney William D. Weinreb; Harold H. Shaw, Special Agent in Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Boston Field Division; Suffolk County Sheriff Steven Tompkins; Arlington Police Chief Frederick Ryan; Reading Police Chief Mark D. Segalla; Burlington Police Chief Michael Kent; and Peabody Police Chief Thomas Griffin made the announcement today. Assistant U.S. Attorney Kenneth G. Shine of Weinreb’s Major Crimes Unit is prosecuting the case.

Violent Crime
Updated November 15, 2017