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South Carolina man connected to string of bank robberies

Authorities say that a 60-year-old South Carolina man who was taken into custody on the morning of Nov. 15 has been linked to a recent series of at least six bank robberies in Alabama and Florida. The man was apprehended when officers from the Lakeland Police Department, deputies from the Polk County Sheriff's Office and agents from the Federal Bureau of Investigation's Safe Streets Task Force conducted a traffic stop in Lakeland, Fla. Police say that the pickup truck the man was traveling in had been stolen from a South Carolina car dealer.

According to media accounts, authorities were alerted when the man removed an electronic monitoring device that he had been ordered to wear when he was put on supervised probation. The man was released from federal prison in August after serving eight years of an 11-year sentence for committing a string of bank robberies in 2009. The FBI obtained a federal warrant for the man's arrest on Oct. 31 after a bank on U.S. Highway 98 in Lakeland was robbed.

Police say that they identified the man after watching security footage recorded during the bank robberies. The man allegedly slipped handwritten notes to bank tellers that demanded money and threatened them with violence if they did not comply. Video footage is said to show the man getting into a pickup truck outside one of the banks driven by a female accomplice. However, initial reports do not reveal if the unidentified woman was also taken into custody during the traffic stop.

Criminal defense attorneys with experience in cases involving serious felonies may seek a negotiated plea agreement when the evidence against their clients is compelling and the penalties they face are severe. Prosecutors may be receptive to such overtures even when a conviction seems extremely likely because criminal trials are expensive and juries are sometimes unpredictable.

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