AMARILLO, Texas — Five defendants appeared in federal court and admitted robbing the Education Credit Union in Amarillo, Texas on September 23, 2016, announced U.S. Attorney John Parker of the Northern District of Texas.
Leonard Jovon Coulter, 29, and Raul Garcia, 28, each pleaded guilty to one count of credit union robbery, and one count of using and carrying a firearm during and in relation to a crime of violence. The robbery count carries a maximum statutory penalty of 20 years in federal prison and a $250,000 fine. The firearms offense carries a mandatory seven-year penalty and a $250,000 fine. Sentencing for Coulter and Garcia is set for July 11, 2017.
Richard Charles Cunningham, Jr., 39, and Desire Valverde, 23, also each pleaded guilty to one count of credit union robbery. Sentencing for Cunningham is set for July 10, 2017. Sentencing for Valverde is set for July 11, 2017.
Keli Edwards, 35, pleaded guilty to one count of misprision of a felony. This count carries a maximum statutory penalty of 3 years in federal prison and a $250,000 fine. Sentencing for Edwards is also set for July 10, 2017.
According to the plea documents, on September 23, 2016, Coulter and Cunningham Jr. entered the Education Credit Union located at 1801 FM 2381, Amarillo, Texas. Coulter approached the teller counter, pointed a firearm at the teller, and told the teller to give him all her money in the drawer. Coulter told the teller to not do or push anything or he would shoot her. The teller told Coulter the drawers were locked. Coulter jumped the counter, pressed the firearm in the teller’s back, and told the teller to hurry. Coulter got money out of the teller’s drawer, and then he demanded access to the vault. The teller stated she could not access the vault.
The manager was then ordered to come and open the vault. After Coulter took the money from the vault, the tellers and manager were ordered to the ground. Coulter and Cunningham exited the Credit Union with approximately $60,067.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and Potter County Sheriff’s office investigated the robbery. Agents learned through their investigation that Garcia was a get-a-way driver and planned this robbery with Coulter and Cunningham. Later, agents stopped Garcia in his pickup and located $5,020 in United States Currency packaged in Education Credit Union bank bands. Agents also recovered two firearms in Garcia’s vehicle, including the firearm Coulter used during the robbery.
Agents conducted a search warrant on Garcia’s residence. Agents located a backpack that had $23,890 in United States Currency, and some of the bills were packaged with Education Credit Union bank bands.
Later, FBI agents learned that Garcia and Coulter were involved in another Education Credit Union Robbery on May 25, 2016. Agents learned through their investigation that Valverde, an employee of Education Credit Union at the time, helped Garcia plan both robberies by providing Garcia information of how and when to commit each robbery. FBI agents discovered that Valverde was in contact with Garcia by phone during each robbery. On May 25, 2016, Valverde was working as a teller and gave Coulter money from her drawer. Garcia paid Valverde a portion of the money taken from the Education Credit Union robbery on May 25, 2016, for her help.
According to plea documents filed in Edwards’ case, Edwards was Coulter’s girlfriend and was watching out for law enforcement on September 23, 2016, when Coulter and Cunningham entered the Credit Union to commit the robbery. Edwards drove Cunningham away from the Credit Union after the robbery to Garcia’s vehicle. Cunningham, Coulter, and Garcia met at Edwards’ residence prior to the robbery and discussed committing the robbery.
The FBI, Amarillo Police Department, the Potter County District Attorney’s Office and the Potter County Sheriff’s Department investigated. Assistant U.S. Attorney Joshua Frausto is in charge of the prosecution.
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