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Justice News

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

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Wernersville Man Pleads Guilty To Bank Robberies In York, Lebanon, And Berks Counties

HARRISBURG – The United States Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Pennsylvania announced that Derek Pelker, age 27, of Wernersville, Pennsylvania, pled guilty on May 8, 2017, before United States District Judge John E. Jones, III, to three counts of armed bank robbery, use of a firearm in relation to a crime of violence, and possession of a firearm by a felon.


According to U.S. Attorney Bruce D. Brandler, Pelker pled guilty to charges related to the armed bank robberies of the BB&T Bank in East Prospect, Pennsylvania on April 24, 2015; the National Penn Bank in Oley, Pennsylvania on May 19, 2015; and, the M&T Bank in Lebanon, Pennsylvania on April 5, 2016. The guilty plea was made pursuant to a plea agreement, subject to the approval of the court, that specified that Pelker will receive a 25-year term of imprisonment when he is sentenced.


Pelker is the eighth and final defendant to plead guilty in relation to these robberies:


  • Andrew Ishman, age 31, Wrightsville, pled guilty to the East Prospect bank robbery on October 3, 2016;

  • Ryan Miller, a/k/a “Otis,” age 25, Robinson Township, pled guilty to the East Prospect and Oley Bank robberies on April 24, 2015 and December 6, 2016;

  • Keith Pelker, age 28, Wernersville, pled guilty to the Lebanon bank robbery on October 3, 2016;

  • Shannon Gadzouris, age 24, Shillington, pled guilty to the Lebanon bank robbery on October 3, 2016;

  • Kelsie Bair, age 28, and Lindsey School, age 27, both of Lebanon, pled guilty to accessory after the fact after they disposed of the weapon used in the Lebanon bank robbery off a pier in Ocean City, New Jersey. The weapon was ultimately recovered by the FBI scuba diving team; and

  • William Papoutsis, Pelker’s uncle, age 35, of Reading, pled guilty to obstruction of justice in relation to these robberies.


All defendants are awaiting sentencing.


The investigation was conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation Capital City Violent Crimes Task Force, the Pennsylvania State Police, the South Lebanon Township Police Department, the U.S. Marshals Fugitive Task Force, and the Lebanon and York County District Attorney’s Offices. The Capital City Violent Crimes Task Force consists of representatives from the FBI’s Harrisburg Field Office and the Harrisburg Police Department. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Scott R. Ford and Daryl Bloom are prosecuting the case.


This case was also brought as part of the Violent Crime Reduction Partnership (“VCRP”), a district wide initiative to combat the spread of violent crime in the Middle District of Pennsylvania. Led by the United States Attorney’s Office, the VCRP consists of federal, state and local law enforcement agencies whose mission is to locate, apprehend, and prosecute individuals who commit violent crimes.


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


The maximum penalty for the offenses is life imprisonment, a term of supervised release following imprisonment, and a $1,250,000 fine. 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.


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Violent Crime
Updated May 9, 2017