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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Middle District of Georgia

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Monday, October 24, 2022

Cordele Man Pleads Guilty to Robbing Planters First Bank

ALBANY, Ga. – A Cordele, Georgia, resident pleaded guilty today in federal court to robbing a local bank.

Donald Wellons, Jr., 26, pleaded guilty to one count of robbery before U.S. District Judge Leslie Abrams Gardner. Wellons faces a maximum of 20 years in prison to be followed by three years of supervised release and a $250,000 fine. A sentencing date will be scheduled by the Court.

“Bank robbery is a crime of violence and intimidation, affecting the victims and the larger community,” said U.S. Attorney Peter D. Leary. “The Cordele Police Department’s speedy apprehension of a dangerous individual in this case underscores their commitment to this community’s sense of peace and safety.”

“Thanks to the quick reaction of our local law enforcement partners, Wellons was arrested and unable to threaten any more innocent victims,” said Keri Farley, Special Agent in Charge of FBI Atlanta. “Wellons now faces serious prison time without the opportunity for parole, where he will no longer be able to wreak havoc in his community.”

“Officers with the Cordele Police Department did an outstanding job working this case, from the initial response to the investigation and—ultimately—the conviction,” said Cordele Police Chief Jalon J. Heard. “As officers, we take an oath to serve and protect the communities in which we work. I hope that with this conviction, the citizens of Cordele know that we take that oath very seriously and take pride in our community.”

According to court records, Wellons entered the Planters First Bank in Cordele on the morning of Sept. 28, 2021, and handed a bank teller a threatening note that read, “Do you want to make it home today?” The teller was slow to respond, so Wellons reached towards his waistband and indicated he had a weapon—believed to be a firearm at the time of the incident but later determined to be a knife—then demanded money from the teller drawer. The bank teller emptied a drawer of cash into a bag furnished by Wellons, who demanded more money. When Wellons saw the drawer was empty, he left the bank.

Cordele Police Department officers immediately recognized Wellons from crime scene images as the suspect and quickly located him at his residence. A family member consented to a search of the home. In Wellons’ bedroom, officers found the stolen cash, the bag, a knife and the threatening note he had passed to the bank teller. Wellons has a lengthy criminal history in the Cordele community to include identity theft fraud, unauthorized discharge of firearms and possession of a firearm by a felony first offender. 

This case was investigated by the Cordele Police Department and FBI. 

Assistant U.S. Attorney Matthew Redavid is prosecuting the case.

Topic(s): 
Firearms Offenses
Identity Theft
Updated October 24, 2022