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Ark. man indicted for local bank robberies

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A Fort Smith, Ark., man was indicted on March 1 for two armed bank robberies in Springfield and Joplin last year, according to a news release from Beth Phillips, U.S. attorney for the Western District of Missouri.

Robert Knepper, 45, was charged in a four-count indictment by a federal grand jury in Springfield. The indictment replaces a criminal complaint filed against Knepper on Feb. 17 and has additional charges, the release said.

The indictment charges Knepper with robbing Liberty Bank in Springfield, 210 N. West Bypass, on March 29, 2010, and with robbing Great Southern Bank in Joplin, 1232 S. Range Line Road, on Sept. 16, 2010. It also charges him with two counts of possessing a firearm in connection with the bank robberies, alleging he used a .45-calber handgun to rob Liberty Bank and a 9mm handgun to rob Great Southern Bank.

An affidavit filed in support of the original criminal complaint alleges Knepper stole $80,000 from Liberty Bank and $404,350 from Great Southern Bank.

In the case of Liberty Bank, the affidavit alleges Knepper presented a note to a bank employee, demanding that the bank manager give him cash from the vault. Knepper allegedly carried a handgun in a shoulder holster and threatened to kill everyone in the bank.

According to the affidavit, Knepper allegedly took the keys to the bank manager's vehicle and fled with $80,000, abandoning the car about a mile away Liberty Bank.

The affidavit also claims that in the Great Southern Bank case, Knepper carried a handgun and climbed over the teller counter, ordered the bank employees to the floor and told tellers to open the bank vault. He allegedly stole $404,350, placing the money in a soft shell cooler.

On Feb. 13, a bag containing a handgun was found at a Fort Smith Red Lobster restaurant. Fort Smith Police Department officers also found $166,000 and various hotel and car rental receipts in the bag, which led officers to Knepper, who was staying at a Comfort Inn in Fort Smith. He was arrested at the site, according to the news release.

Evidence supporting the charges must now be presented to a federal trial jury to determine guilt or innocence.

The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Robyn McKee and was investigated by the FBI, the Joplin Police Department and the Fort Smith Police Department.[[In-content Ad]]

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