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Press Release

Rensselaer Man Pleads Guilty to Bank Robbery and Firearms Charges for Two Capital Region Armed Bank Robberies

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Northern District of New York

ALBANY, NEW YORK – Ulysses Jessie Walls, a/k/a “Guwala,” age 29, of Rensselaer, New York, pled guilty today to armed bank robbery, firearms and conspiracy charges in connection with two February 2019 armed bank robberies.

The announcement was made by United States Attorney Carla B. Freedman; Alfred Watson, Acting Special Agent in Charge of the Albany Field Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI); Steven A. Nigrelli, Acting Superintendent of the New York State Police (NYSP); Chief Eric Hawkins of the Albany Police Department (APD); and Chief David Keevern of the North Greenbush Police Department.

Walls admitted that he committed two armed robberies with Christopher Cohn a/k/a “Wolf.”  On February 6, 2019, Walls and Cohn pulled up to an Albany Trustco Bank branch, where Cohn declared he was about to “go do this,” meaning that he planned to rob the bank.  Walls and Cohn then entered the bank wearing ski masks.  In the bank, Walls displayed a gun, and both men threatened to kill the bank’s employees, who surrendered approximately $150,000 to the pair. 

Walls also admitted that on the morning of February 26, 2019, he and Cohn entered an M&T Bank branch in North Greenbush, each wearing a ski mask and brandishing a gun.  During the robbery, Cohn fired multiple shots, including one that grazed a bank employee.  According to court documents, law enforcement tracked Cohn, Walls, and their getaway driver to an Albany motel using a GPS device placed in the stolen money by a member of the bank’s staff.  Cohn was apprehended by officers with more than $10,000 in cash and wearing red sneakers matching those captured by the bank’s surveillance cameras during the robbery.  Walls was arrested in the motel’s lobby, where officers found him with several bags containing approximately $3,800 in cash along with ski masks and other clothing matching that worn by the robbers.  

Walls will be sentenced on December 27, 2023 by United States District Judge Mae A. D’Agostino.  Under the terms of Walls’s plea agreement, the parties have jointly recommended to Judge D’Agostino that Walls receive a prison term of 204 months (17 years) and a 5-year term of post-imprisonment supervised release.  Under the plea agreement, Walls will also be required to pay restitution to his victims, including both banks, and to forfeit the money he stole in the robberies.   

After pleading guilty to firearms, armed bank robbery and conspiracy charges, Cohn was sentenced to 241 months’ imprisonment by Senior United States District Judge Lawrence E. Kahn.  

This case was investigated by the FBI, the NYSP, the Town of North Greenbush Police Department, and APD, with the assistance of the Albany County Sheriff’s Office and the Rensselaer County District Attorney’s Office.  Assistant U.S. Attorneys Joshua R. Rosenthal and Ashlyn Miranda prosecuted the case.

Updated August 21, 2023

Violent Crime