Quincy bank robber gets decade in federal prison

Still image captured from surveillance video in the robbery on Dec. 26, 2013 of First Mid-Illinois Bank & Trust in Quincy.

A man charged in a string of bank robberies, including one in Quincy, was sentenced to more than 10 years in federal prison this week by a federal judge in Urbana.

Willie Franklin, 38, was charged in the Dec. 26, 2012 robbery of First Mid-Illinois Bank and Trust in Quincy.

Franklin is also accused of robberies in Kankakee, Wentzville, Mt. Vernon, Iowa City, Manteno, Morton and Peoria.

U.S. District Judge Michael McCuskey sentenced Franklin Tuesday to 125 months in prison followed by three years supervised release, according to federal court records.

He was taken into custody by federal authorities in Tampa, Florida in January 2013.

The court record details Franklin's long history of criminal activity that started at the age of 18. The crimes included a series of car thefts, criminal property damage and forgery.

His first federal conviction came in 2003 after he stole his fourth car. A federal judge in Missouri sentenced him to 30 months in prison. He was also brought up on charges that he tried to defraud the University of Illinois Employees Credit Union of $58,000.

In 2009, while serving his 20 month prison sentence, he was found in possession of marijuana inside the federal penitentiary in Leavenworth, Kansas resulting in what was then his 13th felony conviction.

Franklin escaped from a halfway house in 2010 and stole his fifth car and received another 22 months in prison for the offence.

The federal prosecutor noted that Franklin began robbing banks almost immediately after his release from federal prison on Nov. 30, 2012.

"The defendant robbed his first bank three days after being released from federal custody," according to court documents. "In the following month, he robbed at least a dozen more banks in at least three states."

The method was the same in almost every robbery.

Franklin would hand the teller a note that read, "This is a robbery. Give me all your hundreds, fifties and 20s. No dye packs." He would leave the bank with the money and the note, according to court documents.

Investigators caught up with Franklin who was holed up in a Tampa, Florida motel. He fled from police but was captured after a pursuit. He told the arresting officers that he committed the robberies because he wanted to give his children a good Christmas.

He also told agents he did thorough research of bank teller procedures and targeted community banks because they had less security.