Three sent to prison for Pearland bank robbery
For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Southern District of Texas
HOUSTON – Three Houston men have been ordered to federal prison for aiding and abetting bank robbery and brandishing a firearm for the 2021 robbery of a local Woodforest Bank, announced U.S. Attorney Alamdar S. Hamdani.
Alex Dwayne Thomas, 20, and Rafael Fernandez, 29, pleaded guilty Feb. 24 and Jan. 26, respectively.
Today, Judge Alfred H. Bennett sentenced Thomas and Fernandez to 24 and 18 months in prison, respectively, for the bank robbery. They each also received an additional 84 months for the firearms charges which must be served consecutively. The respective 108 and 102-month prison terms will be followed by three years of supervised release.
Accomplice Lorenzo Lewis Smith, 20, Houston, also pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 108 months April 20.
“These men put innocent lives at risk – first when they terrorized bank employees at gunpoint, then by engaging in a reckless escape,” said Hamdani. “Thankfully, authorities were on their heels and put them in custody in short order. This sentence shows our vigilance in combatting violent crime and how we partner with law enforcement to ensure these criminals are off the streets of Houston.”
The charges stem from a violent take-over style robbery of a Pearland area Woodforest Bank Nov. 5, 2021. During the robbery, Thomas jumped over the teller counter while brandishing a 9mm firearm with an extended magazine. Smith then used a crowbar to pry open the cash drawers and stole U.S. currency.
Both then fled to an awaiting get-away car that Fernandez was driving. Authorities pursued the vehicle in a high-speed chase before safely apprehending all three men.
All three men will remain in custody pending transfer to a U.S. Bureau of Prisons facility to be determined in the near future.
The FBI conducted the investigation with the assistance of the Harris County Sheriff’s Office Task Force officers and the Pearland Police Department. Assistant U.S. Attorney Matthew Peneguy and John M. Lewis prosecuted the case.
Updated June 2, 2023