Three guilty pleas in bank robberies

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By Becky Barnes

Three of the five individuals accused of robbing or being accomplices to area bank robberies have entered guilty pleas to their charges. The remaining two will be on trial next week.

On Friday, Nov. 26, Jeffrey Allen Pratt, 30, pleaded guilty to two central Kentucky bank robberies in U.S. District Court in Lexington.

Pratt admitted to robbing the Oddville Avenue branch of Farmers National Bank in Cynthiana on Aug. 18 as well as the Farmers National Bank in Falmouth on Aug. 6. The two banks are independent of each other.

Pratt told authorities that he entered the Cynthiana FNB and threatened to use a gun if the teller didn’t meet his demands. He took $11,920 in that heist, according to information from the U.S. Attorney’s Office provided in a press release.

Pratt also got away from the Falmouth FNB with $6,671.

Two other Cynthiana men also admitted their guilt in the robberies.

Steven Wayne Price, 19, pleaded guilty to aiding and abetting. Joshua Griffieth, 28, pleaded guilty to being an accessory to robbery.

According to the U.S. Attorney’s office, Griffieth admitted that he drove Price and Pratt from Cynthiana to a Lexington motel to hide out.

Price also admitted that he drove Pratt to both bank locations in the August robberies.

Pratt was initially charged with six bank robberies. However, he pleaded guilty in only two of the robberies, but as part of the plea agreement, he admitted that he robbed the four other banks.

Pratt confessed to authorities that he robbed FNB in Berry in October 2007. He took $5,660 on that occasion. He also admitted that he stole $6,944 from the FNB Cynthiana on Feb. 25, 2008.

On two separate days in March, Pratt robbed the Integra Bank of Mt. Olivet and Harrison Deposit Bank in downtown Cynthiana. In those heists, Pratt took $3,500 from Integra and about $1,673 from Harrison Deposit.

Trials will be held on Wednesday, Dec. 10, for Miguel David Ayala, 29, and Kristin Marie Welte, 21, both of Cynthiana.

They are named as defendants in federal indictments of aiding and abetting during some of the robberies in which Pratt admitted his guilt.

Formal sentencing for Pratt, Price and Griffieth will be held on Feb. 13, 2009.

Pratt and Price could be sentenced to a maximum 20 years in prison. Griffieth’s maximum sentence could be 10 years.

If convicted, Ayala and Welte could also face a 20-year maximum sentence.

“This was great team work,” said Harrison County Sheriff Bruce Hampton, who along with deputies Paul Olin and Lance Hutchison were on hand for Pratt’s arrest in Lexington.

“If this had gone to trial, they probably would have got more time,” Hampton said. “A guilty plea was probably best because it would’ve cost the taxpayers more money.”

The investigation and subsequent arrests were the result of efforts by the U.S. Attorney’s Office, the Commonwealth Attorney’s office, the Cynthiana Police Department, Harrison County Sheriff’s Department, Kentucky State Police and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

“It was just good teamwork with all of the other agencies,” Hampton said of the successful investigation and subsequent pleas.