WILKES-BARRE — A federal judge has accepted the guilty plea of a Hazleton man for robbing three financial institutions in April 2012.
Shawn Luther Kelley, 35, faces up to 60 years in prison and fines totalling $750,000 for the robberies that all occurred in the Hazleton area over a nine-day period.
According to court documents, Kelley first robbed the PNC Bank at 499 Susquehanna Blvd. in Hazle Township on April 16, 2012. He got away with $3,980. Then on April 20, Kelley robbed the Choice One Community Federal Credit Union at 983 N. Sherman Court, Hazleton, of $1,140.
Four days later, he was caught shortly after holding up the Citizens Bank at 40 W. Broad St. in West Hazleton of $1,420.
The case was originally being handled by state and local police, but the FBI was brought in and the case became a federal one with stiffer penalties. A combination of a tracking device inserted in one of the money bags, surveillance footage at one bank and tracking his cellphone helped police first identify Kelley and then locate him.
Senior U.S. District Court Judge A. Richard Caputo accepted the guilty pleas in federal court in Wilkes-Barre on Monday. The case was investigated by the FBI, Pennsylvania State Police, Hazleton Police Department and West Hazleton Police Department.
As part of the plea agreement, the United States Attorney has agreed not to fight a defense request for a sentencing based on three levels less than what the federal sentencing guidelines call for. The judge does not have to agree to that request.