Philadelphia Father Sentenced for Attempted Armed Bank Robbery, His Sons Charged as Accomplices

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PHILADELPHIA, PA — United States Attorney Jennifer Arbittier Williams announced that Ronald DeWitt Vines, 50, of Philadelphia, PA, was sentenced this week to 13 years in prison and five years of supervised release by United States District Court Judge Paul S. Diamond for an armed robbery he and his accomplices, who were two of his sons, attempted to carry out in Bucks County in late 2017.

In August 2021, the defendant pleaded guilty to charges of attempted armed bank robbery, and using, carrying, and brandishing a firearm during a crime of violence, in connection with his attempt to commit the armed robbery of the PNC Bank branch on Buck Road in Holland, PA, in November 2017. To execute the robbery, Vines’ son, Elijah Vines (who was previously sentenced to five years and one month in prison), placed a handgun against the side of a bank employee’s head, forcing her to open the bank door as she arrived for work that morning. A second bank employee screamed when she realized the bank was being robbed. Vines and his accomplices, sons Elijah and Solomon Vines, quickly fled the bank in a getaway vehicle before being stopped by Northampton Township Police Officers responding to a 911 call. A search by officers of the getaway vehicle uncovered one loaded semi-automatic handgun, one loaded rifle, and two body armor vests.

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“This defendant terrified and threatened the lives of bank employees who were just attempting to do their jobs, and he convinced his sons – young men with their whole lives ahead of them – to help him pull it off,” said U.S. Attorney Williams. “The simple fact is that this family is a danger to the community. This case demonstrates why our All Hands On Deck initiative is so important: we are investigating and prosecuting the most violent criminals to get them off the streets and behind bars.”

“Imagine the terror of that bank employee when the gun was put to her head,” said Jacqueline Maguire, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI’s Philadelphia Division. “Make no mistake, this was a violent crime, and the fact that Vines and his sons fled empty-handed doesn’t lessen the severity of their actions one bit. Fortunately, local police officers quickly saw and stopped the family’s getaway car before they could try again somewhere else. The FBI is gratified Vines is finally being held accountable for this shameful scheme in which he involved his own children.”

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The case was investigated by Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, and the Northampton Township Police Department, and is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney José R. Arteaga.

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