U.S. Attorney's Office
Eastern District of Virginia
(703) 299-3700
November 7, 2014

Two Maryland Men Sentenced for Roles in 2013 String of Armed Bank Robberies

ALEXANDRIA, VA—Alphonso Stoddard, 59, of Forest Heights, Maryland, and James McNeal, 63, of Hyattsville, Maryland, were sentenced today to life in prison and 15 years in prison, respectively, for conspiracy to commit bank robbery, armed bank robbery and brandishing a firearm during a crime of violence.

Dana J. Boente, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia; Andrew G. McCabe, Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI’s Washington Field Office; and M. Douglas Scott, Arlington County Chief of Police, made the announcement after the sentencing by U.S. District Judge T.S. Ellis, III.

“These men were seasoned thieves who had been robbing banks for many years,” said U.S. Attorney Boente. “In committing these crimes they endangered the lives of many Virginians and law enforcement officers. The sentences delivered today reflect the seriousness of these crimes, and the commitment of this office and our law enforcement partners to protecting our communities by prosecuting violent criminals.”

“Armed bank robberies have a high propensity for violence because the weapons violent criminals bring with them puts bank tellers at risk and the public in danger,” said Assistant Director McCabe. “Today’s sentence demonstrates that the collaborative work by law enforcement in Maryland, Virginia and D.C. allowed investigators to trace these bank robbers to crimes committed throughout our region. The FBI, through our Violent Crime Task Force, will continue to track down bank and armed robbery crews in order to keep our community free from violence.”

Stoddard, who received mandatory life in prison without parole due to prior convictions for armed bank robberies, was convicted by a federal jury on Aug. 8, 2014, of charges involving three separate bank robberies. McNeal was also convicted by a federal jury on Aug. 8, 2014, for his involvement in one bank robbery, and was sentenced to 184 months in prison and five years of supervised release. Another co-defendant, James Link, 57, of Washington, D.C., pleaded guilty on March 20, 2014, and was sentenced to 35 years in prison and five years of supervised release on Sept. 19, 2014.

According to court records and evidence at trial, the FBI identified Link, McNeal and Stoddard as possible suspects in a string of bank robberies in late 2013 and kept the men under close surveillance. On Dec. 27, 2013, Link, McNeal and Stoddard were followed by law enforcement agents as they cased two banks in Arlington, Virginia. One of the banks the defendants were seen casing was a Wells Fargo branch on South George Mason Drive.

On Dec. 31, 2013, McNeal left his residence in Hyattsville and picked up Link and Stoddard before returning to the Wells Fargo branch in Arlington. At approximately 1:15 p.m., Stoddard and Link entered the bank. Inside the bank, Link brandished a firearm while Stoddard removed approximately $47,000 in cash from teller drawers. The two men exited the bank and returned to the vehicle where McNeal was waiting. The FBI and Arlington County police officers arrested the defendants approximately one block away from the Wells Fargo branch. A handgun and cash were found in the vehicle.

A search of McNeal’s house led to the discovery of an additional firearm believed to be used in earlier bank robberies, cash and gloves. Stoddard admitted to his involvement in armed robberies at a Wells Fargo in Rockville, Maryland, on Oct. 29, 2013, and the Bank of Georgetown in Vienna, Virginia, on Oct. 30, 2013. Link admitted he was involved in the Bank of Georgetown robbery and an armed robbery at a Wells Fargo in Arlington on Nov. 25, 2013.

The investigation was conducted by the FBI’s Washington Field Office, with assistance from FBI’s Baltimore Division and the Arlington County and Fairfax County police departments. The U.S. Attorney’s Offices for the District of Columbia and the District of Maryland also provided assistance in the investigation. Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Jennifer A. Clarke is prosecuting the case.

A copy of this press release may be found on the website of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia. Related court documents and information may be found on the website of the District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia or on PACER by searching for Case No. 1:14-cr-76.

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