COLUMBUS, Ga. – Four Houston, Texas, residents pleaded guilty to federal charges for stealing cash and damaging ATMs using hooks, chains and stolen trucks in Georgia, Alabama and Louisiana.
Jamarlon Butler, 37, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit offense or to defraud the United States on Aug. 15. Co-defendants Marques Strambler, 35, David Hill, 31, and Traveon Odoms, 34, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit offense or to defraud the United States on Aug. 7. The defendants each face a maximum of five years in prison to be followed by three years of supervised release and a $250,000 fine. Sentencing before U.S. District Judge Clay Land is scheduled for Dec. 7. There is no parole in the federal system.
“These defendants embraced lawlessness, stealing vehicles and mauling ATMs in numerous attempts to steal money in Georgia, Alabama and Louisiana,” said U.S. Attorney Peter D. Leary. “Our office will not hesitate to hold individuals accountable for criminal actions that cause loss and damage for people, their businesses and the broader communities we serve.”
“Damaging property and stealing cash from a bank is a federal crime, regardless if violence occurred, and the FBI will always investigate” said Rich Bilson, Senior Resident of FBI Atlanta’s Columbus office. “Rather than legitimately work to make their money, these defendants choose to scheme and steal and will now be held accountable for their crimes.”
According to court documents and other evidence, the defendants stole cash from ATMs in Georgia, Alabama and Louisiana during the summer of 2021 by accessing the machine’s internal safe using chains and hooks attached to stolen trucks. In total, the defendants are being held accountable for three ATM robberies totaling $166,482.18 of loss in cash and damages.
The first theft occurred in the Middle District of Georgia on June 16, 2021. The defendants stole a Ford F250 from Phenix, Alabama, and targeted the SunTrust Bank on Courtyard Way in Columbus, Georgia. Ultimately, their attempt to access the money inside the ATM was unsuccessful but caused $12,727 in damage.
Approximately forty minutes later and 11 miles away from the SunTrust Bank in Columbus, the defendants successfully robbed the ATM machine at Phenix Girard Bank on Highway 280 in Phenix City, Alabama, using the same stolen truck. The total in cash and damages there was $129,804.44.
Police found the abandoned truck a half a mile from the Phenix Girard Bank the next day. Surveillance footage captured the truck being abandoned behind a business and three individuals running away towards another vehicle. An employee of the business stated he saw the truck traveling at a high rate of speed and dragging something causing sparks and noise (caused by the still-attached tow chain and hook), before it was abandoned in the parking lot. The truck was the same truck used in the attempted robbery of the SunTrust ATM in Columbus.
The defendants stole a truck in Covington, Louisiana, on July 27, and attempted to rob the ATM at the Hancock Whitney Bank in Covington at 4:00 a.m. unsuccessfully. Surveillance video shows the defendants exiting a truck and attaching a tow chain and hook to the front of the ATM to access the internal safe. The defendants caused $23,950.74 in damage.
The case was investigated by FBI-Atlanta, FBI-New Orleans, the Columbus Police Department, the Phenix City, Alabama, Police Department and the St. Tammany Parish Sheriff’s Office, Louisiana.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Crawford Seals is prosecuting the case for the government.