Crime

Key West bank robber gets 7 years in prison for his guilty plea

Wright admitted to robbing this Centennial Bank branch, 701, Whitehead St., on Jan. 11 with a gun in his waistband.
Wright admitted to robbing this Centennial Bank branch, 701, Whitehead St., on Jan. 11 with a gun in his waistband.

The 40-year-old man who admitted robbing a Key West bank at gunpoint in January will serve seven years in federal prison, a judge has ruled.

Frank Nerkell Wright, 40, admitted in U.S. District Court to walking into the Centennial Bank branch, 701 Whitehead St., on Jan. 11 and demanding the teller fork over $5,000 in cash after showing he had a gun tucked into his waistband.

He arrived and left on a bicycle, having filled a purple gift bag with the loot.

But federal prosecutors agreed to drop the armed bank robbery charge if he pleaded guilty to brandishing a firearm in furtherance of a crime of violence.

U.S. District Court Senior Judge Lawrence King, who sentenced Wright on Dec. 8 in Miami, also ordered Wright to complete a drug treatment program in prison and spend two years on supervised probation after he is released.

The case, filed May 3 at the federal courthouse in Key West, was then closed.

From the start, Wright didn’t have much of a defense, court records show: An informant watching the television news the night of Jan. 11 called police to say he recognized the robber from the surveillance video released as “Pimp,” Walker’s nickname, and had seen him the day of the robbery flashing crisp bills at the McDonald’s in Marathon and carrying a gift bag.

Two witnesses also identified Wright as the bank robber.

By November, rather than risk trial, Wright agreed to plead guilty to the firearm charge and face up to 25 years in prison.

Wright’s criminal history dates back to 1994 when he was 18, wrote U.S. Magistrate Judge Lurana Snow in an earlier order confining him to jail without bond after his May 5 arrest until the case was resolved.

His convictions include possession of marijuana and cocaine, tampering with a witness, resisting arrest with violence, multiple charges of possession of cocaine with intent to sell, battery, battery on a law enforcement officer and domestic battery by strangulation.

Gwen Filosa: @KeyWestGwen

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