Former Prince George officer admits to bank burglary www.privateofficer.com
Eddie L. Smith Jr., 42, who had been on the county force for 16 years, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court in Greenbelt to breaking into a bank with intent to commit felony larceny.
Prosecutors said Smith was in uniform and driving a marked police cruiser when he met an associate June 9, 2009. Smith drove himself and the other man to a Temple Hills bank and gave the man the saw and instructions on how to cut open the safe.
Smith “used his position as a Prince George’s County police officer to facilitate this offense,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Deborah A. Johnston said in court.
Earlier, court records say, Smith had told co-defendant Earl Blake that he “had a job for him.” The pair went to a SunTrust bank branch on Old Branch Avenue in Temple Hills. Blake has also admitted his role in the crime.
Smith, according to court documents filed in Blake’s case, disabled the burglar alarm by cutting the lines on a telephone pole outside the bank.
Then Blake, carrying the saw Smith that had given him, headed inside through an unlocked front door, court records say. He adjusted the surveillance cameras inside, then started sawing. Smith stayed outside.
About 3:30 a.m., the bank’s alarm company received a report of a fire alarm, according to the plea agreement. As firefighters headed to the scene, they noticed that a police cruiser that had been parked nearby followed them into the parking lot.
Smith hopped out of the cruiser and told the firefighters that he had checked the building and that it was secure, court records say. But moments later, one of the firefighters spotted someone in the bank, and the man fled through a rear door.
Smith ran to the back of the bank, in apparent pursuit of the man, and returned shortly after, court records say. He drove off without talking to the firefighters or contacting a police dispatcher.
When firefighters went in, they found the saw near the damaged safe. Prosecutors said there was about $40,000 inside.
Prince George’s Police Chief Roberto L. Hylton said Tuesday that he “does not tolerate wrongdoing” in the department. “Bad cops have no place in our profession; they tarnish the good work that is being done by the rest of our employees,” he said.
Blake, 53, of Capitol Heights, pleaded guilty to breaking into a bank with intent to commit felony bank larceny. He is scheduled to be sentenced Aug. 12.
Smith is scheduled to be sentenced in October. He faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison.