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Press Release

Pittsburgh Man Admits Robbing Downtown Bank at Random to Support his Drug Addiction

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Western District of Pennsylvania

PITTSBURGH, Pa. -A former resident of Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, pleaded guilty in federal court to a charge of bank robbery, United States Attorney Scott W. Brady announced today.

Jonathan Owens-El, 56, formerly of Pittsburgh, PA, pleaded guilty on Wednesday to one count before Senior United States District Court Judge Joy Flowers Conti.

In connection with the guilty plea, the court was advised that, on March 19, 2018, Owens-El entered Key Bank, Downtown Pittsburgh, with a blue knit scarf around his face and wearing gloves. Owens-El passed the teller a note that said, "No Dye, No Alarm 50’s, 20’s, 10’s". The teller handed him $260 in U.S. Currency along with $40 wrapped around a GPS tracker. Owens-El fled and police used the GPS device to locate him on a Port Authority Transit bus.

After boarding the bus, the officer noticed the defendant seated in the back with a blue scarf tucked under his leg. When the officer asked Owens-El to stand up, the officer saw U.S. Currency protruding from his left front pants pocket.

Owens-El agreed to an interview and admitted that he handed the teller a note demanding money. He stated that once he received the cash, he placed the money into a bag then walked towards Smithfield Street and boarded a PAT bus. Owens said he picked Key Bank at random and decided to rob the bank to support his drug addiction.

Judge Conti scheduled sentencing for September 18, 2019. The law provides for a maximum total sentence of not more than 20 years in prison, a fine of $250,000, or both. Under the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, the actual sentence imposed is based upon the seriousness of the offense and the prior criminal history, if any, of the defendant.

Pending sentencing, the court ordered that Owens-El remain detained.

Assistant United States Attorney Shanicka L. Kennedy is prosecuting this case on behalf of the government.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Pittsburgh Bureau of Police Department conducted the investigation that led to the prosecution of Owens-El.

Updated May 10, 2019

Violent Crime