Feds: Repeat bank robber owed $100K in restitution for prior holdups

Liz Evans Scolforo
  • Jesse Burney robbed a Maryland bank of nearly $100K in 2015, armed with an AK-47 and a Taser, court records state.
  • He pleaded guilty Friday in Maryland's federal court and is expected to be sentenced to 21 years in prison.
  • Burney fled into southern York County and hid in a wooded area, but state police found and captured him.

A Harrisburg man who spent a decade in prison for holding up a number of southcentral Pennsylvania banks between 2001 and 2003 has pleaded guilty to robbing a bank in Maryland of nearly $100,000 — money he apparently needed to pay off the restitution he owes for his earlier spree.

Jesse Allen Burney used a loaded AK-47 and a Taser to rob the PNC Bank on Whiteford Road in Whiteford, Maryland, on April 27, 2015, while still on federal parole for his earlier crimes, according to court records.

He made his getaway on a dirt bike, which he drove to a country road a few miles away and hid under a tarp, officials said. He then took off in his mother's SUV, which Burney had left along the country road, according to court documents.

Burney fled into York County — specifically, to a farm field in Lower Chanceford Township — where he ditched the SUV and ran into the woods to hide, documents state.

GPS device: Police by that time were already closing in on the repeat robber, thanks to a GPS tracking device bank employees hid among the $97,237 Burney stole, officials said.

Pennsylvania State Police troopers assisting in the search found Burney hiding in the woods and arrested him, documents state. When Burney was captured, he was in possession of about $10,000 in cash and an AK-47, officials said. The rifle was loaded with a 30-round magazine, and a bullet was in the chamber, officials said.

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Nearby, police recovered a black trash bag with the rest of the bank's stolen cash, as well as the GPS tracking device, documents state. Inside the ditched SUV were the clothing, tactical vest, gloves and motorcycle helmet Burney wore during the robbery, according to documents.

Confessed: He confessed to robbing the PNC Bank branch and told investigators he owed $100,000 in restitution for his January 2005 guilty plea to bank robbery in federal court in Harrisburg, documents state.

Burney, 34, pleaded guilty Friday in Maryland's federal court to armed bank robbery for last year's holdup, records state.

If his plea agreement is approved by a federal judge, Burney will be sentenced to 21 years in prison, according to Vickie LeDuc, spokeswoman for the U.S. Attorney's Office in Maryland.

Sentencing is scheduled for Sept. 2, according to court records. His defense attorney could not be reached for comment Wednesday.

The robbery: Federal court documents state Burney walked into PNC Bank about 10:35 a.m. wearing a motorcycle helmet with the visor down, a tactical vest and gloves and carrying a black backpack with the barrel of the AK-47 sticking out of it. He had slipped a sock over the barrel, but it was visibly poking out of the top of the backpack, documents state.

He pulled out a Taser, announced he was robbing the bank and demanded $100,000, according to court documents.

Court documents state Burney opened a black trash bag he was carrying and shouted, "If you don't open the safe in 15 seconds, I will start shooting!"

Burney started to walk out of the bank after getting nearly that amount, but stopped before leaving and warned bank employees, "If I see any police, I'm going to come back and shoot you," documents state.

Earlier spree: Burney and co-defendant Shawn Michael Powell were indicted for robbing nine banks in Cumberland, Dauphin, Lebanon and Berks counties between December 2001 and December 2003, according to federal court records.

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The banks were in Mechanicsburg, Shaefferstown, Enola, Dauphin, Mount Aetna and Myerstown, records state.

Both men pleaded guilty. Burney was sentenced to 12 years in federal prison, while Powell was sentenced to nearly 20 years, according to court records. Both men were ordered to pay restitution amounts in the six-figure range.

Burney later filed a motion in federal court asking that his restitution payments be deferred. He said he wanted to defer his payments so he could raise capital to start a business, to send money to support his daughter and to pay for his own commissary items in prison, records state.

In October 2011, a federal judge denied the request.

— Reach Liz Evans Scolforo at or on Twitter at @LizScolforoYD.