Seven men charged with robbing Houston-area banks
Seven people conspired to rob several Houston-area banks between August and December of last year, including the New Year's Eve holdup of a Pearland bank where nearly a dozen people were held hostage during a standoff with police, a federal indictment alleges.
One of the seven, 18-year-old Gregory Wayne Ferguson of Houston, was arrested Tuesday, one day after the federal indictment was returned, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office.
The alleged ringleader and mastermind, Larry Smith, 34, of Houston, remains in federal custody since his arrest Jan. 2.
The five others — Raymond Tierra Johnson, 30, Samuel Glen Bonner, 39, Arlington David Wilkes, 20, Carl Ray Turner Jr., 24, and Edward Johnson, 26, all of Houston — are in state custody pending transfer to federal custody, officials said.
The 13-count indictment alleges that the men conspired to rob local banks beginning with a Wells Fargo branch on Grant Road in the Cypress area on Aug. 23. Other holdups include other Wells Fargo sites at Memorial Drive and Kimberly Lane on Oct. 7; a Comerica Bank branch on the Northwest Freeway and a Citibank Branch on Cypresswood on Sept. 14; Chase bank branches on the Northwest Freeway in Cypress on Oct. 27 and North Main in Pearland on Dec. 31.
FBI officials said Smith watched the banks and choose those that didn't have security guards or bullet resistant barriers. He wrote notes that the armed robbers handed to the tellers during the holdup, officials said. In some cases, the robbers fired their weapon.
Smith, Ferguson, Johnson and Wilkes are charged with brandishing a firearm during the robberies, officials said. Smith and Johnson are each charged with two counts of discharging a firearm. Bonner, Wilkes and Tuner are charged with one count each for discharging a firearm.
Ferguson is expected to make his initial appearance in federal court today.
In the Pearland holdup, authorities said the robbers held several hostages — Chase employees and customers — inside the bank for nearly five hours.
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