Alphonso Stoddard, 59, of Forest Heights, Md., and James McNeal, 63, of Hyattsville, Md., were sentenced today to life in prison and 15 years in prison, respectively, for conspiracy to commit bank robbery, armed bank robbery and brandishing a firearm during a crime of violence.
Dana J. Boente, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia; Andrew G. McCabe, Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI’s Washington Field Office; and M. Douglas Scott, Arlington County Chief of Police, made the announcement after the sentencing by U.S. District Judge T.S. Ellis, III.
Stoddard, who received mandatory life in prison without parole due to prior convictions for armed bank robberies, was convicted by a federal jury on Aug. 8, 2014, of charges involving three separate bank robberies. McNeal was also convicted by a federal jury on Aug. 8, 2014, for his involvement in one bank robbery, and was sentenced to 184 months in prison and five years of supervised release. Another co-defendant, James Link, 57, of Washington, D.C., pleaded guilty on March 20, 2014, and was sentenced to 35 years in prison and five years of supervised release on Sept. 19, 2014.
According to court records and evidence at trial, the FBI identified Link, McNeal and Stoddard as possible suspects in a string of bank robberies in late 2013 and kept the men under close surveillance. On Dec. 27, 2013, Link, McNeal and Stoddard were followed by law enforcement agents as they cased two banks in Arlington. One of the banks the defendants were seen casing was a Wells Fargo branch on South George Mason Drive.
On Dec. 31, 2013, McNeal left his residence in Hyattsville and picked up Link and Stoddard before returning to the Wells Fargo branch in Arlington. At approximately 1:15 p.m., Stoddard and Link entered the bank. Inside the bank, Link brandished a firearm while Stoddard removed approximately $47,000 in cash from teller drawers. The two men exited the bank and returned to the vehicle where McNeal was waiting. The FBI and Arlington County police officers arrested the defendants approximately one block away from the Wells Fargo branch. A handgun and cash were found in the vehicle.
A search of McNeal’s house led to the discovery of an additional firearm believed to be used in earlier bank robberies, cash and gloves. Stoddard admitted to his involvement in armed robberies at a Wells Fargo in Rockville, Md., on Oct. 29, 2013, and the Bank of Georgetown in Vienna, Va., on Oct. 30, 2013. Link admitted he was involved in the Bank of Georgetown robbery and an armed robbery at a Wells Fargo in Arlington on Nov. 25, 2013.
The investigation was conducted by the FBI’s Washington Field Office, with assistance from FBI’s Baltimore Division and the Arlington County and Fairfax County police departments.