Violent bank robbers sentenced to prison for roles in string of heists
HOUSTON (KTRK) -- One by one, eight violent bank robbers were sent to prison. The men all took part in several armed robberies, including one in which an off-duty Harris County Sheriff's deputy was shot.
Some of the eight men were sentenced to decades in prison. The sentences range five to nearly 44 years in federal custody.
Investigators say they were part of a larger 11-man crew which would case and then violently take over banks inside grocery stores. They terrorized tellers, holding Uzi-style firearms to their faces and pistol-whipping them.
The 20 to 30 attacks happened across Harris, Galveston and Fort Bend counties from May 2007 through September 2011.
During one of the robberies an off-duty Harris County Sheriff's sergeant, Michael Ellison, was shot. He saw the takeover in progress and was wounded trying to stop it.
The eight defendants all pleaded guilty to various charges related to the holdups: Shelton McGowen, 24; Derrick Williams, 28; Marcus Rosemond Tarpley, 32; Reginald Mosley, 37; Joel Keon Jackson, 33; Hakim Ibn Ahmad, 31; Patrick Wayne Simmons, 29; and Calvin Wesley Gray, 34.
Mosely received the stiffest sentence. He was the man who shot Sgt. Ellison during the robbery at a Wells Fargo in Sugar Land in August 2011.
As they left, the uncle of one of the robbers sentenced told us why his nephew apologized in court.
Jeffrey Holt said, "I think that justice was served today. He was real sorry for what he had done in that crime, so it's just a sad day for the family."
Investigators only cracked this case because the men tried to commit one last robbery in 2011, not knowing they were already under surveillance.
Court records indicate the defendants would case the banks and credit unions, which were all inside grocery stores. Then they would return, always on weekday mornings between 9am and noon.
Three others who have also pleaded guilty in connection to the violent bank robberies are still awaiting sentencing.
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