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Bank robber sentenced to 30 years in prison

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A Fort Smith, Ark., man has pleaded guilty to robbing two southwest Missouri banks in 2010. Under the terms of the plea agreement, he will be sentenced to 30 years in federal prison without parole.

Robert Knepper, 45, pleaded guilty to the charges contained in an April 7 federal indictment, according to a news release from Beth Phillips, U.S. attorney for the Western District of Missouri.

Knepper admitted to robbing a Liberty Bank in Springfield, 210 N. West Bypass, on March 29, 2010, and a Great Southern Bank branch in Joplin, 1232 S. Range Line Road, on Sept. 16, 2010.

According to court documents, Knepper presented a note to a Liberty Bank employee demanding cash from the bank's vault. During the robbery, Knepper placed his hand on the pistol grip of a handgun and threatened to kill everyone in the bank. The manager put $80,000 from the vault into a bank bag, and Knepper stole the manager's car, which was abandoned about a mile from the bank.

With the Great Southern robbery, Knepper, holding a handgun, jumped the teller counter, pointed the gun at employees and told them to open the vault, the release said.

On Feb. 13, police officers found a bag containing a handgun, $166,000 and hotel and car rental receipts at a Red Lobster restaurant in Fort Smith. The receipts led officers to a Fort Smith Comfort Inn, where Knepper was staying. He was arrested on the spot.

A sentencing hearing will be scheduled after the presentence investigation is completed by the U.S. Probation Office.

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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