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Former firefighter sentenced for two bank robberies

A man from Bixby, Oklahoma was sentenced Wednesday in federal court for robbing two Oklahoma banks of nearly $320,000, announced U.S. Attorney Clint Johnson.

“Jerry Brown’s string of criminal acts included two bank robberies and attempting to escape prosecution by staging his own disappearance to look like a kidnapping,” said U.S. Attorney Clint Johnson. “This bank robber has been held accountable and will spend 51 months in federal prison.”

U.S. District Judge Gregory K. Frizzell sentenced Jerry Ray Brown, 44, to 51 months in prison followed by three years of supervised release. The sentence was within the federal guideline range for the crimes. Judge Frizzell also ordered Brown to pay just over $260,000 in restitution, representing the stolen bank funds that had not yet been recovered.

During the hearing, Assistant U.S. Attorney Ryan Roberts argued for a sentence within the guideline range while the defense argued for a sentence below the guideline range, requesting Brown serve just over 12 months in federal prison. The defense pointed to Brown’s life of service prior to the bank robberies and the extreme financial and personal struggles he had been dealing with at the time of the crimes. Brown then apologized to the victims. He stated that as a former firefighter, he had been a life saver but ultimately became a life destroyer when he committed the robberies.

In a statement to the Court, one victim said that the anxiety she experienced had been crippling and had taken her mentally away from her children. She agreed with Brown and said that he had been a life destroyer—that his actions not only affected the victim but also her family. She said that she had suffered hardships following the robberies, but unlike Brown, she had not committed any criminal acts.

Brown previously entered guilty pleas to all of the original bank robbery counts in the charged indictment, and he did so without a plea agreement from the United States. Brown lived in Skiatook at the time of the robberies and later in Bixby while criminal proceedings were pending.

Brown held up the Oklahoma Capital Bank in Skiatook on March 12, 2020, and Exchange Bank in Sperry on May 7, 2020. In both robberies, Brown demanded bank employees take him to their vaults and open their ATMs.

Bank tellers and surveillance video at both locations described or showed the suspect as being around 6 feet tall and weighing between 200 and 250 pounds. The suspect wore a black mask, distinctive black and gray gloves with a yellow logo; carried a black backpack; and drove a silver SUV. One of the tellers at the Skiatook bank suggested the robber’s mannerisms and build reminded her of Jerry Brown, who banked there.

Through their investigation, law enforcement was able to link Brown to the robberies and arrested him. They believed Brown’s likely motive for the robberies was to alleviate the numerous professional and personal financial problems he had been experiencing.

He was charged in federal court on Oct. 27, 2020, and later released while awaiting further criminal proceedings in the case.

On Oct. 25, 2021, authorities initially received a report that Brown was potentially kidnapped from his residence in the early morning hours. Later that morning, Nowata police officers initiated a traffic stop on a vehicle registered to Brown. Instead of stopping, Brown eluded officers and disappeared. Just after 8 am, Brown was arrested by the Lyon County Sheriff’s Office in Kansas for the alleged theft of gasoline, evading authorities, and other charges. Brown was later returned to federal custody.

The FBI, Skiatook Police Department, and Owasso Police Department conducted the investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorney Ryan M. Roberts prosecuted the case.

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