On January 3, Alvin Lee Neal received a 46-month prison sentence for robbing a Wells Fargo Bank in San Diego, California, and was ordered to pay back the $565 taken.
Neal, a registered sex offender, acknowledged his role in the May 13, 2016 robbery in a plea agreement with the US Attorney's Office of Southern California.
As described in the complaint filed with the US District Court in San Diego, Neal walked up to a teller in the bank and "presented a Wells Fargo debit card which he swiped through the customer card reader located on the counter."
This displayed his name and customer profile on the teller's screen.
Asked by the teller what kind of business he wanted to transact with the bank, Neal said, "You're being robbed," and presented a note reading, "You're being robbed no mistake."
Neal subsequently clarified the ambiguity of his note, which could have been read as a statement that the robbery should not be mistaken as some other activity. His intended message turned out to be a warning that the teller not do anything that might prompt a harmful response.
"You don't want anyone to get hurt, don't make a mistake," he said.
Thanks to Neal's mistake, investigators didn't have to work very hard to solve the case. A query to the California Department of Motor Vehicles database for Alvin Lee Neal produced a picture that was similar to the individual captured on the bank's surveillance video. Additional law enforcement database searches identified Neal as a registered sex offender.
When law enforcement agents arrived at Neal's address and requested permission to search his residence (which Neal granted in writing), they found "a grey, checkered pattern double-breasted style jacket similar in appearance to the jacket worn by Neal when the Wells Fargo was robbed" and the ATM card with which he had identified himself.
The complaint indicates that Neal was read his rights, which he subsequently waived, and then admitted to the investigators his intent to rob the bank.
The sentence of almost four years is significantly less than the 20-year maximum penalty. ®