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35-year-old Baltimore man sentenced to 12½ years in prison for bank, convenience store armed robberies

Lawyer or judge gavel with balance handshake
(sabthai/Getty Images/iStockphoto)

A Baltimore man was sentenced to 12½ years in prison Monday after robbing a bank and convenience store with a gun in 2018.

U.S. District Judge Ellen L. Hollander sentenced Benjamin Fowlkes, 35, to 12½ years of prison time and three years of supervised release. Hollander also ordered him to pay over $13,000 in restitution.

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Brendan Hurson, the attorney representing Fowlkes, said his client is “extremely remorseful.” The assistant federal public defender said Fowlkes was using heroin when he committed the robberies and at Monday’s sentencing “sincerely apologized” to the tellers and store clerk affected by his crime.

Hurson also said Fowlkes accepts the sentence Hollander gave him.

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“He was self-medicating with heroin in a failed effort to overcome the effects of extreme trauma suffered during a life lived on the streets of Baltimore,” Hurson said in an email. “He hopes he can receive much-needed care while serving his lengthy sentence in federal prison.”

Fowlkes’ plea agreement said that on Nov. 26, 2018, he walked into a convenience store around 11 p.m. in the 2700 block of W. Franklin St. and displayed what appeared to be a silver semiautomatic handgun. Fowlkes, who authorities said was actually using an air gun, ordered store employees to hand over cash from the register. He took the money and ran, the plea agreement said.

A day later, Fowlkes walked into a bank in the 3600 block of Boston St. and tried to open the bank account, prosecutors said. As he talked with a customer service employee, authorities said, Fowlkes pulled out a yellow folder from a mesh laundry bag, asked for a pen and then wrote a note demanding money before passing the note to the employee.

The employee told Fowlkes there is no money in the customer service area, the plea agreement said. Fowlkes then pulled out an air gun from the laundry bag, prosecutors said, and told the employee, who was on crutches, to get up slowly. The employee then walked with Fowlkes to the teller area of the bank where two other employees were working to get the demanded money.

Fowlkes then showed the gun again and demanded one of the teller’s car keys, the plea agreement said. One of the tellers passed his keys to a Hyundai Sonata and the other handed Fowlkes cash from the drawer.

Fowlkes put the money into the laundry bag, prosecutors said, and escaped in stolen Hyundai. Baltimore Police officers arrested him two days later in Southwest Baltimore after pulling him over in the stolen car. Officers said he was wearing the same zip-up hoodie worn during the robberies and had over $2,000 of cash on him.

Authorities searched his home on a warrant and said they found the laundry bag, yellow folder, note used during the bank robbery, silver air gun, and mail addressed to the owner of the stolen car.

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