Wilkinsburg man pleads guilty to robbing 2 banks last October

July 29, 2018

A Wilkinsburg man who was caught buying beer a block away from a bank minutes after he robbed it faces up to 20 years in federal prison, prosecutors in Pittsburgh said Thursday.

Lamont Gates, 64, pleaded guilty to bank robbery for two robberies a week apart last October, one at a Dollar General store and the other at a PNC Bank branch, U.S. Attorney Scott W. Brady said.

On Oct. 5, Gates robbed the Dollar General on Penn Avenue in Wilkinsburg while armed with a knife and made off with about $310.

A week later, Gates walked into the PNC Bank on Penn Avenue, approached the teller counter and demanded the teller hand over $20 bills, prosecutors said. Gates then reached through the metal bars and threatened to “blow the teller’s head off” while reaching for a black-handled object in his back pocket.

Gates took off from the bank with $2,060 -- including bait money, prosecutors said.

A few minutes later, police found and arrested Gates in the parking lot of a beer distributor a block away from the bank and arrested him. He had $1,940.

“It appears that he had already purchased a few items from the beer distributor,” prosecutors said.

Police did not find a weapon on Gates, who then confessed to the Dollar General robbery.

An attorney for Gates could not be reached late Thursday.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Shanicka L. Kennedy is prosecuting the case with help from the FBI and Wilkinsburg police.

Gates faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in federal prison and up to a $250,000 fine.

U.S. District Court Judge Arthur J. Schwab has scheduled sentencing for Dec. 10.

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