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PRESS RELEASE: Augusta Residents, Christopher J. Cunningham and Willie W. Smith, Sentenced To Federal Prison for Their Roles in Armed Bank Robbery

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Southern District of Georgia
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Augusta Residents Sentenced To Federal Prison for Their Roles in Armed Bank Robbery

AUGUSTA, GA – Christopher J. Cunningham, 39, and Willie W. Smith, 38, from Augusta, Georgia, were both sentenced yesterday by Senior U.S. District Court Judge Dudley H. Bowen, Jr. to 10 years and 9 months in prison following their convictions for armed bank robbery. Ricardo M. Mobley, 29, also from Augusta, was sentenced last month to 8 years in prison for his role in the robbery. There is no parole in the federal system. Upon their release from prison, all three defendants will be supervised for 5 years by the U.S. Probation Office.

The evidence at the guilty plea and sentencing hearings revealed that, on the morning of January 9, 2015, Richmond County Sheriff’s Office received a report of an armed bank robbery in progress at a Southern Bank branch in Hephzibah, Georgia. Two men had entered the bank wearing masks, gloves and brandishing a firearm, while a third person – a getaway driver – waited in the car. The two who entered the bank demanded money, and left with over $12,000 in cash. Immediately thereafter, Chief Dwayne Flowers of the Hephzibah Police Department engaged in a high speed chase with the getaway car. The getaway car ultimately crashed in a field next to a country road, and the three defendants fled on foot, making their initial escape in the wooded area nearby. Based on evidence recovered at the scene of the crash, all three defendants were identified. Mobley was arrested later that same day. Smith and Cunningham were arrested some weeks later. Notably, Cunningham had been convicted at trial of another armed bank robbery in 2004. All three defendants ultimately pled guilty in this case.

This prosecution was the result of the cooperative efforts of the Hephzibah Police Department, the Richmond County Sheriff’s Office and the FBI’s Safe Streets Task Force. Also assisting in the investigation were the Georgia State Patrol, the U.S. Marshal’s Service and the U.S. Probation Office. Assistant United States Attorney Nancy Greenwood prosecuted the case on behalf of the United States. For additional information, please contact First Assistant United States Attorney James D. Durham at (912) 201-2547.

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