ST. LOUIS — The teenage serial bank robber dubbed by the FBI as the "I-55 Bandit" for a series of crimes in five states pleaded guilty Friday in federal court.
Andrew Maberry, 19, of O'Fallon, Ill., entered the guilty plea to a bank robbery charge in U.S. District Court in St. Louis. A sentencing date was not set, but Maberry could face up to 20 years in prison.
Federal prosecutors say Maberry robbed 10 banks in five states during a spree that began in May and ended in August. Some of the early robberies in Missouri and Illinois were near Interstate 55, prompting the nickname.
Maberry, who graduated from high school in 2012 in suburban St. Louis, robbed banks in three Missouri towns, Arnold, Crystal City and Cape Girardeau. Four of the crimes occurred in Maryland, two in Bel Air and one each in Essex and Ocean City. He also robbed banks in Edwardsville, Ill., Hurricane, W.Va., and Jackson, Tenn.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation noticed the trend and put out a news release on Sept. 10, seeking the public's help in capturing the suspect. The FBI also used electronic billboards to post security camera photos of the crimes.
The outreach worked: Officials with the U.S. Attorney's office in St. Louis said the FBI received numerous calls from people identifying Maberry as the suspect.
On the same day as the news release, Maberry called the FBI office in St. Louis and turned himself in.
The FBI said that in each of the crimes, the robber used a demand note and implied he was armed, though he didn't show a weapon. No one was hurt. FBI spokeswoman Rebecca Wu declined to say how much money he got away with.
The FBI often assigns nicknames to serial robbers, believing it provides a peg that can draw information from the public and help lead to their capture.
Dean C. Bryant, the FBI's special agent in charge of the St. Louis office, said about 90 percent of bank robberies in eastern Missouri were solved in 2012, about twice the national average. He said the public's help played a big role in those successes.