Two Area Men Sentenced to Prison Terms for Conspiracy to Rob Banks

WASHINGTON – John King Lionell, 26, of Washington, D.C., was sentenced today to 42 months in prison for his role in a conspiracy to rob banks in the District of Columbia and Maryland. A co-defendant, Steve Jamal Smith, also known as Jabrail Love, 23, of Hyattsville, Md., earlier also was sentenced to a 42-month prison term.

The announcement was made by U.S. Attorney Jessie K. Liu, Andrew W. Vale, Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI’s Washington Field Office, Peter Newsham, Chief of the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD), J. Thomas Manger, Chief of the Montgomery County, Md., Police Department, and Ron Pavlik, Chief of the Metro Transit Police.

Lionell and Smith were found guilty by a jury in November 2017 of conspiracy to commit bank robbery, following a trial in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. Upon completion of their prison terms, each defendant will be placed on three years of supervised release. Smith was sentenced on Feb. 2, 2018, by the Honorable Randolph D. Moss and Lionell was sentenced today.

According to the evidence at trial, on Jan. 26, 2016, at approximately 1:50 p.m., Lionell and Smith entered a BB&T Bank in the 3100 block of 14th Street NW. While inside, they inquired about opening a bank account. A bank employee provided them with a brochure. Both defendants were observed in possession of the brochure. They then walked to a bank teller, and Lionell presented a demand note for money. He also instructed the teller not to press the silent alarm. The teller did not provide the defendants with any money.  After not receiving any cash, Lionell told Smith: “Hurry up let’s go! Let’s go!”

At that time, the two men exited the bank together. They then entered the Columbia Heights Metro station and rode Metrorail to the Silver Spring stop.

After exiting the subway station, at approximately 2:40 p.m., Lionell and Smith entered a Capital One Bank in the 8600 block of Georgia Avenue in Silver Spring and approached the teller’s window.  This time, Smith displayed a demand note for money to the teller, while Lionell stood next to him. Smith told the teller: “Put your hands up … Don’t put your hands down.”  They did not receive any money at this bank, either, and left the branch.

During the course of the investigation by law enforcement of the bank robbery at the BB&T Bank, the FBI retrieved the bank brochure that the defendants had possessed, and sent it to be further examined for possible fingerprints. A subsequent forensic examination by an FBI fingerprint examiner determined that Smith’s fingerprint were on the brochure.  After the identification of Smith from his fingerprint on the BB&T brochure, agents from the FBI were able to identify several witnesses who identified both defendants from bank surveillance photos.

In announcing the sentences, U.S. Attorney Liu, Assistant Director in Charge Vale, Chief Newsham, Chief Manger, and Chief Pavlik commended the work of those who investigated the case from the FBI’s Washington Field Office, the Metropolitan Police Department, the Montgomery County Police Department, and the Metro Transit Police Department. They expressed appreciation for the assistance provided by the FBI Laboratory.

Additionally, they acknowledged the efforts of those who worked on the case from the U.S. Attorney’s Office, including Assistant U.S. Attorney Lisa Walters, Paralegal Specialists Jeannette Litz and Teesha Tobias; Legal Assistant Peter Gaboton and Litigation Technology Specialist Claudia Gutierrez. Finally, they commended the work of Assistant U.S. Attorneys Kamilah O. House and Emory V. Cole, who prosecuted the case.

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