February 11, 2011 / 2:48 PM / 9 years ago

Bank robbing "Granddad bandit" pleads guilty

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A bank robber known as the “Granddad Bandit” who eluded law enforcement during a two-year spree has admitted to robbing 26 banks in 14 states, prosecutors said on Thursday.

Michael Francis Mara, 53, of Baton Rouge, Louisiana pleaded guilty to two counts of bank robbery carrying a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison each as part a plea agreement.

In exchange, 24 other counts from robberies committed between 2008 to 2010 in 14 states outside of Virginia will not be charged against Mara, according to a statement from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia.

“Mr. Mara’s incredible crime spree came to an end because of a tip from the public,” said U.S. attorney Neil MacBride in Richmond.

“The FBI put together a concrete case tying a string of robberies throughout the country to one man. Once we got the final piece needed, we were able to catch an elusive criminal and hold him accountable for his crimes.”

Mara admitted to robbing 26 banks throughout the country, including two in Virginia, by walking into each bank and passing a note to the bank teller that announced the robbery and stated the desired amount, the statement said.

In court, Mara said that he had stolen $83,868 in cash through his robberies.

After a Glen Allen, Virginia robbery in June 2010, the Federal Bureau of Investigation launched a campaign using digital billboards asking for information from the public, and subsequently got the critical tip, the statement said.

Reporting by Wendell Marsh; Editing by Jerry Norton

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