Ashref Abil Bannaga, age 32, of Gaithersburg, Maryland pleaded guilty Friday to the December 7, 2011, armed bank robbery of the Capitol One Bank in Frederick, Maryland.
The guilty plea was announced by United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Rod J. Rosenstein; Special Agent in Charge Stephen E. Vogt of the Federal Bureau of Investigation; and Captain Thomas J. Ledwell, Acting Chief of the Frederick Police Department.
According to his plea agreement, on December 7, 2011, Bannaga entered the Capitol One Bank located at 1305 W. 7th Street in Frederick, Maryland, with a mask and a hood covering his face, brandished what appeared to be a firearm, and ordered the employees and customers into one general area. Bannaga, still brandishing the gun, demanded that the branch manager open the safe. When the branch manager could not open the safe, Bannaga, still brandishing the gun, opened a teller drawer, stole approximately $5,995 and left the bank.
A witness walking into the bank as Bannaga was exiting. Bannaga showed the witness his gun and warned the witness not to do anything "stupid." The witness saw Bannaga get into a black truck and reported the partial front tag, the fact that there were no rear tags, and a plate description to law enforcement, who located the truck in an adjacent parking lot. The rear tag of the truck was hanging on by one screw, as though it had just been reattached.
Investigation revealed that the truck had been rented by Bannaga the day before. Bannaga was employed at the time of the robbery to do construction work at the supermarket located in the same strip mall as the bank. Law enforcement recovered the clothing, mask, hat, and gloves worn by the robber, as well as most of the bank money, and the gun (a replica BB-type gun) on the construction site where Bannaga worked. Bannaga’s DNA was on the mask and the hat used during the robbery.
Bannaga was seen on his cell phone in the area shortly after the robbery. When approached by law enforcement, he disclosed, without any prompting, that he had just served five years for bank robbery and had been released in January of 2011. Bannaga was on federal supervised release for a 2006 Virginia bank robbery after serving a sentence of 70 months.
Bannaga faces a maximum sentence of 25 years in prison for armed bank robbery. U.S. District Judge Ellen L. Hollander scheduled sentencing for April 5, 2013 at 2:00 p.m.
United States Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein praised the FBI and Frederick Police Department for their work in the investigation. Mr. Rosenstein thanked Assistant U.S. Attorney Rachel M. Yasser, who is prosecuting the case.