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Justice News

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

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Friday, August 26, 2022

Bank Robber Dubbed “Chameleon Beard Bandit” Sentenced

GREENSBORO – Ronnie Hiram Wessinger, Jr., age 49, of Gaffney, South Carolina, was sentenced today by United States District Judge William L. Osteen, Jr., to 180 months in prison followed by a three-year term of supervised release for two counts of bank robbery.

According to court records, on September 29, 2017, Wessinger walked into a Bank of America branch located at 2 Park Drive in Durham. Wessinger, dressed in a gray long-sleeved shirt, blue jeans, a safari hat with a palm tree logo, and black gloves, was carrying a motorcycle-style helmet. He also appeared to have a beard. He handed a note to a teller. The note said “This is a robbery. All money in bag. No dye packs. I have a gun. Don’t be stupid.” When the teller tried to show her manager the note, Wessinger told her to “hurry up” while placing his hand on his front pants pocket, indicating he possessed a firearm. He then told her to “Give me the note back! I want all of it!” She described him as seeming agitated as she handed him mostly small denominations. He then demanded larger denominations, asking, “Where are the hundreds?” She explained that she was giving him everything available to her. When he looked away from her, she was able to quietly tell another employee to call 911 because she was being robbed. After taking the money, Wessinger began to leave the bank, saying “Don’t follow me or send anyone after me or I will shoot.” He then ran away from the bank. Employees locked the main entrance and waited for law enforcement. An audit revealed that Wessinger robbed the bank of $10,747.74.

Court records also reflect that on November 17, 2017, Wessinger, who appeared to have a dark beard, entered the Bank of America branch located at 107 Muirs Chapel Road in Greensboro while wearing a purple buttondown shirt and black hat, and carrying a motorcycle helmet. He approached the first teller window and handed a note to the victim teller. He then lifted his shirt and showed her a gun that was tucked in his waistband and demanded money. She told him that because it was the end of the day, she did not have any money. Wessinger then raised his voice and told her to “Give me some large bills.” She then showed him her empty register, to which he responded, “I’ll kill yo ass.” Another teller who was worried for the victim-teller’s safety gave Wessinger $2,500 from her register. Wessinger told them it was not enough, so another teller gave the initial victim-teller $2,244, which she then gave to Wessinger. He put the cash into a backpack he was carrying, asked for his note back, and left the bank.

Wessinger pled guilty to both robberies on April 7, 2022. According to some news reports, he was nicknamed the “Chameleon Beard Bandit” because he often changed the color of his beard.

Sandra J. Hairston, U.S. Attorney for the Middle District of North Carolina, made the announcement. The case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Greensboro Police Department, and Durham County Sheriff’s Office, and prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Veronica L. Edmisten.

Updated August 26, 2022