Feds: Serial bank robber pleads guilty

Myron Ernst linked to 9 recent bank robberies in Florida, Alabama, FBI says

Some of the banks that Myron Ernst is accused of robbing.
Some of the banks that Myron Ernst is accused of robbing.

A man who robbed more than a half-dozen banks in the Southeast has pleaded guilty, the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Middle District of Florida announced Friday.

As part of a plea agreement, according to court documents, Myron William Ernst, 61, pleaded guilty to one count of bank robbery, but will make restitution to all the banks he held up, including two in Orange Park: Bank of America and SunTrust. 

According to the plea agreement, Ernst committed a spree of nine bank robberies and attempted bank robberies in both Florida and Alabama. During each incident, Ernst presented bank employees with a threatening note demanding money, prosecutors said.

A sentencing date has not yet been set. 

Ernst was taken into federal custody Nov. 15 during a traffic stop in Florida, authorities said. He was arrested in Lakeland, about halfway between Orlando and Tampa, by members of the FBI's Safe Streets Task Force, the Lakeland Police Department, the Polk County Sheriff's Office and the Florida Highway Patrol. 

According to the FBI, Ernst was driving a truck authorities said he stole from a South Carolina dealership before the bank robbery spree began in early October. 

His arrest came just one day after the Clay County Sheriff's Office said Ernst robbed the Orange Park SunTrust Bank on Blanding Boulevard.

According to the FBI, Ernst previously pleaded guilty to robbing six banks, including the Bank of America in Orange Park in 2009, and was sentenced to 11 years in federal prison in 2010. He won early release in August and was placed on supervised probation.

Authorities said Ernst violated his probation and had been on the run from South Carolina.

Bank robbery timeline

Oct. 5: Wells Fargo in Orlando, Florida
Oct. 9: Bank of America in Orange Park, Florida
Oct. 12: TD Bank in Lakeland, Florida
Oct. 22: Regions Bank in Hoover, Alabama
Nov. 7: Regions Bank in Montgomery, Alabama
Nov. 13: Wells Fargo in Ocala, Florida (attempt)
Nov. 14: SunTrust Bank in Orange Park
Nov. 15: Fifth Third Bank in Orlando
Note: The FBI says a ninth one happened in the Orlando area.

The FBI said Ernst ditched his monitoring device in September and another robbery spree began in Alabama and Florida, including a holdup Oct. 12 at the TD Bank on U.S. Highway 98 North in Lakeland, Florida. The FBI said Ernst entered the bank, showed a note indicating he had a firearm and then took off with $2,265 money in a newer model, dark gray Ford F-150 pickup truck. 

On Oct. 31, the FBI said, a federal arrest warrant was issued for Ernst, charging him with the Lakeland bank robbery.

According to the FBI, he is suspected in seven other holdups. He had appeared on one of the FBI's "Most Wanted" lists up until Nov. 15.

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