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Justice News

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

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Serial Robber Sentenced to 20 Years in Federal Prison

Baltimore, Maryland –U.S. District Judge James K. Bredar sentenced Swain J. Clarke, age 30, of Owings Mills, Maryland, today to 20 years in prison, followed by three years of supervised release, for a series of commercial robberies.


The sentence was announced by United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Rod J. Rosenstein; Special Agent in Charge Gordon B. Johnson of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Baltimore Field Office; Chief Terrence B. Sheridan of the Baltimore County Police Department; and Baltimore County State’s Attorney Scott Shellenberger.


According to his guilty plea, from May 22, 2014 through September 30, 2014, Clarke robbed six businesses, and attempted two additional robberies, of grocery and convenience stores. In four of the robberies, Clarke brandished what appeared to be black a semi-automatic handgun, and in two robberies he threatened the store employee with a knife.


On July 23, 2014, Clarke robbed a convenience store in the 3000 block of Hammonds Ferry Road in Halethorpe, Maryland, brandishing a gun at the cashier and removing cash from two cash registers. On August 14 and September 9, 2014, Clarke attempted to rob the store again, however, the same cashier he had robbed on July 23rd was working on both those dates and Clarke left the store. On September 30, 2014, Clarke returned to a grocery store that he had previously robbed, and purchased a $10 money order from the customer service manager, who recognized Clarke as the person who robbed her on May 22, 2014. The money order was made out to “Swain Clarke.”


Clarke admitted that he wore a dreadlocks wig in several of the robberies. Clarke also wore distinctive clothing in a number of the robberies, including a “True Religion” baseball cap, a black and white plaid shirt, a blue button-down shirt with distinctive horizontal stripes, and a blue hooded sweatshirt with white strings and a logo on the left breast. Law enforcement recovered the wig and baseball cap during a search of Clarke’s apartment and obtained photographs from Clarke’s girlfriend’s phone showing Clarke wearing the striped button-down shirt and blue hooded sweatshirt in social settings.


On November 2, 2014, while he was being held at the Baltimore County Detention Center in connection with the robberies, Clarke called his girlfriend and asked her to deactivate his Facebook and Instagram accounts, which she did. As a result, law enforcement officers were unable to view photographs and other information posted on his social media accounts. The call was recorded by the Detention Center’s telephone system.


United States Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein commended the FBI, Baltimore County Police Department and Baltimore County State’s Attorney’s Office for their work in the investigation. Mr. Rosenstein thanked Assistant U.S. Attorney James G. Warwick, who prosecuted the case.

Project Safe Neighborhoods
Updated February 9, 2017