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'Cell phone bandit' pleads guilty

From Terry Frieden
CNN

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A security camera captured this image of Candice Rose Martinez, known as the "cell phone bandit."

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Crime, Law and Justice

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The 19-year-old Virginia woman known as the "cell phone bandit" pleaded guilty Tuesday to bank robbery conspiracy and firearms charges.

Candice Rose Martinez, who gained notoriety for robbing banks while talking on a cell phone, faces a maximum sentence of life in prison.

She will be sentenced March 3 in federal court in Alexandria, Virginia.

Martinez, a community college student before her arrest, also agreed to waive all assets purchased with proceeds from the robberies, including a car, a large screen TV, furniture and clothes.

Martinez admitted to conspiring with Dave Chatram Williams to rob four Wachovia Bank branches in Northern Virginia.

Williams, who was on the other end of her calls, drove the get-away car. He previously pleaded guilty.

Authorities say the two got away with $48,620 from four holdups between October 12 and November 4. According to an affidavit filed in the case, Williams was a former Wachovia employee.

In three of the holdups, cameras captured a woman talking on a cell phone as she presented a box containing a note to tellers. In the fourth robbery, she did not carry a box but displayed a handgun and handed the teller a note, police said.

Court records detailed one of the notes, which was taped to an empty box. On October 22, the bandit presented a note that said, "You have 40 seconds to put all your money in the box, do not make any sudden moves."

The robber then asked the teller to put all $100 and $50 bills in the box, saying, "I need you to empty all the drawers -- you have three." Growing impatient, the robber protested, "You're taking too long, you have 40 seconds."

Authorities seized $3,500 in cash from Martinez's Chantilly, Virginia, apartment as well as a cellular phone box, a high school yearbook, a computer, some Louis Vuitton purses and a digital camera.

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