Valdosta Daily Times

Local News

August 7, 2012

Bank robber pleads guilty

Last-minute plea deal halts trial

QUITMAN — Jurors awaited the start of a two-day trial Monday afternoon, but the case’s defendant unexpectedly pleaded guilty to the 2011 robbery by intimidation of a Valdosta bank and received his sentence.

Southern Circuit Judge James Tunison sentenced Jeffery Lamonte Hargro, 35, to 12 years imprisonment for robbing the Southeastern Federal Credit Union on Baytree Road. The first eight years of his sentence are mandatory, and the remaining four may be served on probation.

A 7 p.m. to 6 a.m. curfew was also levied on Hargro, as well as a directive to avoid contact with his ex-girlfriend. He must also pay a $2,500 fine and restitution to the credit union.

“I’m disappointed in myself,” Hargro said in Lowndes County Superior Court. “I don’t want to talk about anyone else’s problems or what they may be involved in. Today, I’m here to talk about Jeff.”

Hargro said he let his case go to trial because his first public defender dropped the case and moved on.

“I never had time to talk to my previous attorney about the plea deal,” said Hargro. “He said he had too much on his plate and dropped my case. Mr. (William) Folsom picked up the bad end of the case, but he got right to work as soon as he took over my case.”

Before Hargro signed the plea agreement, the judge asked the prosecutor, Assistant Southern District Attorney Brad Shealy, to review the facts of the case.

On a November 2011 afternoon, Shealy said, the defendant walked into the bank and went to teller number three. He passed a note to the teller, which stated his intent, and fled the bank after he received the money.

Witnesses said they saw Hargro leave the bank in a vehicle with two other people, said Shealy. The car was later found close by, near Home Depot.

Hargro’s ex-girlfriend told authorities that Hargro had appeared at her job that day. She said he wore a different shirt than the one he wore earlier that day and he demanded use of her car.

Shealy stated that officers located Hargro at local motel later the same day, after witnesses provided authorities with a description that matched Hargro’s profile.

In the courtroom Monday, Hargro seemed anxious to end the legal proceedings and start his time.

“I want to get my life together and become a productive member of society again,” said Hargro. “I just want to be a good dad to my children and get out in time for my son’s graduation.”

The judge asked the jurors in Hargro’s case to return two days later for another trial.

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