Cleveland-area couple sentenced to six years for robberies committed to pay for heroin habits

August 1, 2018

Cleveland-area couple sentenced to six years for robberies committed to pay for heroin habits

CLEVELAND, Ohio -- Daniel Begin said the robberies started in mid-September after his girlfriend lost her job.

He told investigators that Casey Layne Liberty decided to hold up a bank to feed their heroin addiction after the couple ran out of money. The Cleveland-area couple committed 16 robberies of banks, restaurants and stores within five weeks, making off with $6,598 before Elyria police arrested them on Oct. 23, the FBI said. The robberies stretched from Findlay to Conneaut.

A federal judge sentenced the couple Tuesday to nearly six years in prison, after they pleaded guilty to more than a dozen charges, including multiple conspiracy and robbery counts. U.S. District Judge Benita Pearson also ordered them to return all the money they stole.

Begin, 33, told FBI agent Jack Vickery in October that both he and Liberty, 31, committed the robberies to fuel their drug habit, according to an affidavit Vickery wrote in November.

He told the agent he didn’t want Liberty involved, but that he did not want her going alone if she actually tried to pull it off. He went along to ensure her safety, the agent wrote.

Liberty, an Amherst resident, and Begin, who lived in Cleveland, picked a bank in Ashtabula County, partly because it was far away from where people knew them.

They carried out their plan the afternoon of Sept. 19. Liberty walked into the Andover Bank in Conneaut, wearing a black Halloween wig and carrying a bag. She approached a bank teller and presented an index card that said “Armed Robber outside. Hand me all your money and no one will get hurt,” according to court filings.

The teller gave Liberty $1,764. She ran out and met up with Begin, who was in the driver’s seat of Liberty’s Chevrolet Cobalt. Begin would later tell Vickery that he didn’t realize they were specifically in Conneaut for the robbery.

With the first heist a success, they decided to keep going.

Liberty robbed a Chase Bank in Medina on Sept. 28, a First National Bank in Beachwood on Oct. 4 and a Chase Bank in Fairlawn on Oct. 12. She never showed a weapon, but insisted through her notes that she had one, authorities say.

Begin served as the getaway driver for each bank heists, but the roles reversed when they started going after smaller targets.

He robbed several fast-food restaurants throughout Northeast Ohio, including Subway, Mr. Hero and Domino’s Pizza. He also held up a 7-11 and a GameStop, authorities say. The couple bought a BB gun and Begin used it for some of his robberies.

Begin told the agent that the robberies ran together after a while and described those five weeks as a blur. He said their concern of robbing stores in areas where people didn’t knew them melted away as the need to feed their heroin addiction continued.

Liberty and Begin were initially held on state charges in Lorain County after their arrests. While Begin talked, Liberty cut an interview with a Medina detective short because her heroin withdrawal symptoms became too severe, Vickery wrote.

Federal prosecutors took over the case in November, eventually charging them with more and more robberies. They each pleaded guilty to 16 charges.

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