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Press Release

Jury Convicts McNairy County Man of Bank Robberies, Firearm Charges

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

Jackson, TN – After a three-day jury trial, a federal jury convicted Gene Allen Howell, 38, of Selmer, Tennessee of two counts of aggravated bank robbery, two counts of using a firearm during a crime of violence and being a felon in possession of a firearm. D. Michael Dunavant, U.S. Attorney announced the guilty verdict today.

According to information presented in court, on August 25, 2017, Howell robbed the Home Banking Company located in Finger, Tennessee using a handgun. He pointed the handgun at all three female employees and threated to kill them if they did not comply with his commands. Howell had stolen a utility vehicle from Selmer, which he rode to the bank and used thereafter to evade capture. The utility vehicle was later found abandoned in a wooded area.

On October 14, 2017 Howell attempted to rob The Peoples Bank located in Reagan, Tennessee using a .45 caliber pistol. He hid nearby, and attempted to accost two bank employees as they arrived for work, but they had just entered the secure tellers' area in the bank. Unable to gain access to the teller area, Howell fired the pistol at the head of one of the employees, but she was protected by bullet resistant glass.

Howell and his co-defendant, who served as the getaway driver, were arrested 10 days later in Alcorn County, Mississippi on drug charges. Law enforcement found in Howell's possession two pistols, including one used in the Reagan shooting, ammunition, and clothing worn during the robberies. The co-defendant testified against Howell at trial, and entered a guilty plea.

Howell has an extensive criminal history, including prior convictions for aggravated assault, theft, and drug charges. He faces a mandatory minimum sentence of 17 years imprisonment on the firearms charges, which will run consecutively to a sentence of up to 25 years on the bank robbery charges. There is no parole in the federal system.

Sentencing is scheduled for January 28, 2020, before U.S. District Court Chief Judge S. Thomas Anderson.

U.S. Attorney D. Michael Dunavant said, "Violent crime affects and endangers all communities in West Tennessee, both urban and rural. Howell’s brazen and disturbing armed robbery of two small community banks terrorized the rural community and inflicted fear and harm on multiple victims. Now he will have plenty of time in federal prison to suffer with the consequences of his recidivist criminal conduct, and the citizens of McNairy and Henderson Counties will be safer for it."

This case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Henderson County Sheriff's Department, McNairy County Sheriff's Department, Chester County Sheriff's Department and Alcorn County, Mississippi Sheriff's Department.

Assistant U.S. Attorneys Matt Wilson and Josh Morrow prosecuted this case on behalf of the government.



Cherri Green
Public Affairs
(901) 544-4231

Updated October 31, 2019