You are here

Justice News

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

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Luzerne County Man Charged Federally With Nine Armed Robberies

     The United States Attorney's Office for the Middle District of Pennsylvania announced today that a criminal information has been filed in U.S. District Court in Scranton against Jeffrey Townsley, age 42, of Luzerne County, charging him with two counts of bank robbery and seven counts of robbery of businesses engaged in interstate commerce (Hobbs Act robbery).

     According to United States Attorney Peter Smith, Townsley allegedly engaged in an 18-day crime spree in December 2013, and January 2014.  The charges included two robberies of the First National Community Bank (branches in Kingston and Hanover Township), and seven robberies of local businesses.  Townsley allegedly used a black pellet gun that mirrored the look of a 9mm handgun to threaten his victims.  Townsley was arrested on January 13, 2014, and remains in custody in the Lackawanna County Prison.

     The charges are the result of an investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation with the assistance of local police departments including Kingston, Kingston Township, Larksville, Hanover Township, Wilkes-Barre, Plains, and Ashley, and Luzerne County detectives.  The maximum penalties in this case include 25 years’ incarceration for bank robbery and 20 years’ incarceration for Hobbs Act robbery, and fines totaling $2.25 million.  The government also filed a plea agreement in the case which is subject to approval by the Court.

     Prosecution is assigned to Assistant United States Attorney Michelle Olshefski.

     Indictments and Criminal Informations are only allegations. All persons charged are presumed to be innocent unless and until found guilty in court.

     A sentence following a finding of guilty is imposed by the Judge after consideration of the applicable federal sentencing statutes and the Federal Sentencing Guidelines.

     Under the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, the Judge is also required to consider and weigh a number of factors, including the nature, circumstances and seriousness of the offense; the history and characteristics of the defendant; and the need to punish the defendant, protect the public and provide for the defendant’s educational, vocational and medical needs. For these reasons, the statutory maximum penalty for the offense is not an accurate indicator of the potential sentence for a specific defendant.

Updated April 17, 2015