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'I-55 Bandit' pleads guilty to bank robbery charge

Dec. 21, 2013 @ 12:00 AM

ST. LOUIS, Mo. -- The teenage serial bank robber dubbed by the FBI as the "I-55 Bandit" for a series of crimes in five states, including West Virginia, pleaded guilty Friday in federal court.

Andrew Maberry, 19, of O'Fallon, Ill., entered the guilty plea to a bank robbery charge in U.S. District Court in St. Louis. A sentencing date was not set, but Maberry could face up to 20 years in prison.

Federal prosecutors say Maberry robbed 10 banks in five states during a spree that began in May and ended in August. Some of the early robberies in Missouri and Illinois were near Interstate 55, prompting the nickname.

Maberry, who graduated from high school in 2012 in suburban St. Louis, robbed banks in three Missouri towns, Arnold, Crystal City and Cape Girardeau. Four of the crimes occurred in Maryland, two in Bel Air and one each in Essex and Ocean City. He also robbed banks in Edwardsville, Ill., Hurricane, W.Va., and Jackson, Tenn.

The West Virginia robbery happened July 30 at a branch of Huntington Bank, located at Great Teays Boulevard and W.Va. 34 in Teays Valley. The suspect fled on foot behind a nearby truck stop near Interstate 64, according to reports released at the time of the holdup.

The Hurricane incident was included as relevant conduct. That means Maberry will not be charged separately, but admitted his involvement in the local heist and its loss will be considered in determining Maberry's punishment, said Toni Decker, head of the violent crime unit for the Eastern District of Missouri.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation noticed the trend and put out a news release on Sept. 10, seeking the public's help in capturing the suspect. The FBI also used electronic billboards to post security camera photos of the crimes.

The outreach worked: Officials with the U.S. Attorney's office in St. Louis said the FBI received numerous calls from people identifying Maberry as the suspect.

On the same day as the news release, Maberry called the FBI office in St. Louis and turned himself in.

The FBI said that in each of the crimes, the robber used a demand note and implied he was armed, though he didn't show a weapon. No one was hurt. FBI spokeswoman Rebecca Wu declined to say how much money he got away with.

The FBI often assigns nicknames to serial robbers, believing it provides a peg that can draw information from the public and help lead to their capture.

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