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'I-55 Bandit' bank robber gets 5 years in prison

'I-55 Bandit' bank robber gets 5 years in prison

April 5th, 2014 by JIM SUHR, Associated Press in News

ST. LOUIS (AP) - A serial bank robber the FBI dubbed the "I-55 Bandit" for some of the 10 holdups he pulled off in five states as a teenager was sentenced Friday to five years in federal prison.

Andrew Maberry, 20, of O'Fallon, Ill., pleaded guilty in December to one of the robberies - a heist in July of last year involving a bank in Arnold, Mo., just south of St. Louis. As part of his plea deal, federal prosecutors say Maberry admitted robbing banks from Maryland to Missouri from May of last year to the end of August.

Some of the early robberies in Missouri and Illinois were near Interstate 55, prompting the nickname.

The FBI said that in each holdup, Maberry did not show a weapon, and no one was harmed.

The robbery conviction was punishable by up to 20 years in prison.

Maberry, who graduated from high school in 2012 in suburban St. Louis, robbed banks in the Missouri towns of Arnold, Crystal City and Cape Girardeau. Four of the holdups took place 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 Federal Bureau of Investigation, which has declined to say how much money was taken in the heists, noticed the trend and put out a news release last September, 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 fielded 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 often assigns nicknames to serial robbers, believing it provides a peg that can draw information from the public and lead to their capture.

Dean C. Bryant, the FBI's special agent in charge of the St. Louis office, said about 90 percent of bank robberies in eastern Missouri were solved in 2012, about twice the national average. He said the public's help played a big role in those successes.