Port Republic Man Sentenced to Over 18 Years for PNC Bank Robbery

GREENBELT, Md. (July 21) - U.S. District Judge Deborah K. Chasanow sentenced William Cordell Johnson, age 38, of Port Republic, Monday to 217 months in prison, followed by five years of supervised release, for conspiracy to commit armed bank robbery, armed bank robbery, using a gun during the robbery and illegal possession of a gun by a convicted felon, in connection with the September 24, 2008 robbery of $169,900 from a bank in St. Mary’s County in which the bank manager and her two minor children were kidnapped from their residence, announced United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Rod J. Rosenstein. Judge Chasanow also ordered Johnson to pay $57,485 in restitution.

According to his guilty plea, Johnson and co-conspirator Joseph Brown devised and arranged a plan to rob a bank on Three Notch Road in California, Maryland. Johnson, Brown and co-conspirator Quinita Ennis, observed the whereabouts of the bank manager, determining the time and route she used to leave her minor children in the care of another, and the procedures used by bank employees to open the bank.

On September 24, 2008, Ennis used her car to drive Brown and Johnson to the bank manager’s residence. Wearing masks and camouflage clothing, with Johnson brandishing a 9 mm rifle Ennis had purchased for Brown, Brown and Johnson kidnapped the manager and her two minor children, and drove the family to St. Mary’s County in the manager’s vehicle. Brown then got out of the vehicle and Ennis picked him up.

Johnson ordered the manager to drive to the bank and obtain funds from the bank, while he held the manager’s minor son hostage in her vehicle. The manager’s daughter was released. Johnson took $169,900 from the bank manager and forced the manager to drive him to an elementary school, where the manager and her son were released. Johnson drove the manager’s vehicle to a pharmacy in California, Maryland where he abandoned the vehicle. Brown and Ennis picked him up and Ennis drove them back to Brown’s house.

Later that evening, Johnson, Brown, Ennis and co-defendant Edwin Jones traveled to casinos in New Jersey where they conducted money transactions and gambled tens of thousands of dollars from the bank robbery.

Following the robbery, Brown and Johnson buried the rifle used in the robbery behind a shed in the backyard of Brown’s residence. They purchased safes and buried the safes and $84,000 in the backyard. They attempted to burn camouflage clothing, sunglasses, a stocking hat and gloves used in the robbery.

Also, at Brown’s request, on October 1, 2008, Ennis gave cash to a friend who agreed to purchase plane tickets for Brown, Ennis and Johnson to travel to Las Vegas. The day before and at Brown’s request, Ennis wired $9,000 in stolen bank robbery funds to Brown in North Carolina. Brown told Ennis they would resettle in North Carolina.

Police searched Brown’s home on October 3, 2008 and seized the shotgun and rifle that Ennis had purchased for Brown, safes, and $84,000 buried in the backyard. Police arrested Ennis at work, where they found approximately $16,105 in cash in her purse. Brown and Johnson were arrested in North Carolina, in possession of $7,045 in cash as well as numerous items purchased with bank robbery proceeds.

Quinita Jessie Ennis, age 31, of Lexington Park, Maryland, was sentenced to 10 years in prison for conspiracy to commit armed bank robbery and armed bank robbery, and ordered to pay $57,485 in restitution. Edwin Jonathan Jones, age 41, of Lexington Park, Maryland, pleaded guilty to being an accessory after the fact to the armed bank robbery and to money laundering. Jones traveled with the co-defendants to casinos in New Jersey to exchange cash obtained from the robbery in order to conceal the stolen funds, and also used the proceeds to purchase clothes and other items during that trip. Judge Chasanow sentenced Jones to eight years in prison and ordered Jones to pay $57,485 in restitution.

Joseph Franklin Brown, Jr., age 35, of Great Mills, Maryland, pleaded guilty and faces a maximum sentence of five years in prison for conspiracy to commit armed bank robbery; 25 years in prison for armed bank robbery; a minimum of seven years and a maximum of life in prison consecutive to any other sentence for brandishing a gun during a crime of violence; and, a maximum of 10 years in prison for being a convicted felon in possession of a gun, or if deemed an armed career criminal, a minimum of 15 years and maximum of life in prison. Judge Chasanow scheduled his sentencing for September 21, 2009 at 10:00 a.m. As part of their plea agreements, Johnson and Brown have agreed to forfeit the shotgun and rifle, $169,900 and items purchased from the bank robbery proceeds.

United States Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein thanked St. Mary’s County Sheriff Timothy K. Cameron and the St. Mary’s County Bureau of Criminal Investigation; St. Mary’s County State’s Attorney Richard D. Fritz and his office; Calvert County Sheriff Michael Evans and his office; Calvert County State’s Attorney Laura L. Martin and her office; the Federal Bureau of Investigation; the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives; and the Maryland State Police for their assistance in the investigation and prosecution. Mr. Rosenstein commended Assistant United States Attorneys Steven M. Dunne and Stuart Berman, who are prosecuting the case.

Source: United States Attorney’s Office for the District of Maryland

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