Couple pleads guilty in bank robberies
The bank-robbing couple that hit branches in Florala, Flomaton and East Brewton in March has pleaded guilty to their crimes.
Jerry Hover Tinsley, of Rutherfordton, N.C., and Rhianna Marie Jones, of California, both 30, began their “Bonnie and Clyde”-style spree in Florala on March 4, when they robbed the Wachovia bank of $1,709.
The couple admitted to the crime, as well as the robberies of the Flomaton United Bank, and the Bank Trust in East Brewton, which netted a total of $7,803.
In each instance, the pair passed a handwritten note to tellers demanding money.
The two were indicted by a federal grand jury in March for the robberies in Flomaton and East Brewton. Local warrants were issued for the Florala crime, as it occurred in a different federal jurisdiction.
Reports indicate that Jones was offered a plea bargain in exchange for her testimony against Tinsley, if she provides “substantial assistance” to law enforcement officers.
Tinsley was offered no such deal, and prosecutors recommended the minimum sentence, which according to the U.S. Probation office, is estimated at seven years and eight months.
Florala chief Sonny Bedsole said bank officials said Monday they were happy to see the case come to an end. He said since the couple will not face separate prosecution for the Florala incident, since they were prosecuted by a federal court.
“I know the ladies at the bank were happy about the resolution in the case,” Bedsole said. “I talked with some this morning about it. I think the biggest part (in getting the case solved) was the reward money. That seemed to be what motivated people and brought forth the suspects. I am happy about that.”
Wachovia officials offered a $5,000 reward for the couple’s capture and conviction.
Nearly two weeks after the March 4 robbery, photos posted on MySpace led to the identification and arrest of the couple at a Destin, Fla., Motel 6. A confidential informant gave a tip to the Covington County Sheriff’s Office, who in turn, used it to confirm the couple’s identity using photos posted on the popular social networking site.