Two Rhode Island Men Face Bank Robbery Charges
Defendants allegedly stole vehicle, robbed two banks, and led police on vehicle and foot chases
BOSTON – Two Rhode Island men appeared in federal court in Boston yesterday to face charges in connection with two bank robberies, one in Brockton and one in Abington, that resulted in high-speed chases.
Dong Lee, 48, and Charles Lamont Wheeler, 46, were each charged with two counts of bank robbery. Both defendants are currently in custody on related state charges.
According to court documents, on Sept. 14, 2018, two individuals stole $3,890 from a branch of the Abington Savings Bank in Avon and $3,621 from a branch of the Crescent Credit Union in Brockton by means of a demand note and threatening to possess a gun. The two individuals were observed exiting both areas in a white sedan.
Tellers at both institutions described one of the robbers as an Asian male and the other as a tall black male. Bank surveillance cameras at both institutions captured images of the robbers, wearing distinctive clothing, entering the banks, robbing the tellers, and then exiting the banks.
A few minutes after the robbery of Crescent Credit Union in Brockton, local law enforcement were dispatched to a hit-and-run accident involving a white sedan, whose driver was described as a black male. The white sedan’s license plate number was taken, and a Be-On-The-Lookout (“BOLO”) was issued for the vehicle, which, law enforcement subsequently learned was stolen.
The white sedan was observed on Route 1 in Foxboro by a Massachusetts State Trooper, who pursued the vehicle, but the driver did not pull over. A lengthy high-speed pursuit ensued and eventually ended when the driver lost control of the vehicle and crashed into the wood line. The driver and the passenger then fled the vehicle and ran into the woods. The passenger, later identified as Lee, was captured a short time later in the woods, wearing clothing consistent with that worn by the robber, and in possession of thousands of dollars and a demand note.
The driver, later identified as Wheeler, initially eluded law enforcement, and then stole a vehicle from a nearby gas station. A BOLO was issued for that vehicle, and, after another high-speed chase, the driver eventually stopped after being boxed in by law enforcement on Route 1. Wheeler was wearing clothing consistent with the clothing worn by the robber in the two robberies and law enforcement recovered thousands of dollars from him.
Lee and Wheeler each face a sentence of no greater than 20 years in prison, three years of supervised release, and a fine of $250,000. Sentences are imposed by a federal district court judge based on the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.
United States Attorney Andrew E. Lelling; Harold H. Shaw, Special Agent in Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Boston Field Office; Colonel Kerry A. Gilpin, Superintendent of the Massachusetts State Police Department; Avon Police Chief Jeffrey Bukunt; Brockton Police Chief John Crowley, Attleboro Police Chief Kyle P. Heagney; and North Attleboro Police Chief John J. Reilly made the announcement. Assistant U.S. Attorney Kenneth G. Shine of Lelling’s Major Crimes Unit is prosecuting the case.
The details contained in the indictment are allegations. The defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.