BRUNSWICK, Ga. (WSAV) – A New York man has been sentenced to six and a half years in federal prison for robbing a Brunswick bank last year.
Lionel Valenzuela, 55, admitted to robbing the Ameris Bank at 3440 Cypress Road in Brunswick in October 2019. At the time of the robbery, he was on lifetime parole from New York State after having been released from a prison sentence for second-degree murder.
According to U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Georgia Bobby Christine, Valenzuela threatened the clerk, saying he had a firearm and demanding money, and then ran from the bank with an undisclosed amount of cash.
He was quickly captured by Brunswick Police officers after a private citizen identified him.
While the cash from the robbery was recovered, no weapon was found.
Christine says Valenzuela was sentenced by U.S. District Court Judge Lisa Godbey Wood to 78 months in prison on one count of bank robbery. After he completes his sentence, Valenzuela must serve three years of supervised release.
“Bank robbery is a terrifying, dangerous crime, and no one should have to fear for their lives while in their workplace,” the attorney said. “We’re grateful to the alert bystander and the Brunswick Police officers who stopped Valenzuela’s brief and foolish crime spree. The great work of the FBI will send the repeat offender Valenzuela to a system where there is no parole.”
The case was investigated by the FBI and the Brunswick Police Department, and prosecuted for the United States by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Jennifer Kirkland and Joshua Bearden.
“Without the help of our partners in law enforcement, and our citizens, our job of protecting American citizens and upholding the Constitution would be more difficult,” said Chris Hacker, Special Agent in Charge of FBI Atlanta. “This bank robber was captured and will now be held accountable because a citizen witness stepped up and helped police.”