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Posted at 08:12 AM ET, 05/04/2012

7 years for Ronnie Lawson in ‘smiley-face’ bank robbery attempt

A District man who hoped to usher in 2012 with the spoils of a bank robbery was sentenced to seven years in federal prison Friday.

Ronnie J. Lawson, 34, passed a note to a teller at a Citibank branch that claimed he was armed and demanded $5,000 in cash — all with a smiley face — at 3:45 p.m. on Dec. 30.

“Happy Holidays! :) ... Now return my note, with the cash,” he wrote in his note, according to court papers.

The teller, protected by thick safety glass, didn’t comply and alerted authorities, court papers said. Within minutes, police arrested Lawson near the bank and recovered a knife and similar robbery note in his pockets.

It turns out Lawson was familiar with that particular bank in the 3900 block of Minnesota Ave NE. Just months earlier he had been released from prison for robbing and attempting to rob that same Citibank in early 2007.

Prosecutors had asked U.S. District Judge James Boasberg to sentence Lawson to seven years because “every bank robbery has the potential to be a violent crime.”

“This offense occurred in broad day light in a busy metropolitan area,” federal prosecutor Catherine Connelly of the District’s U.S. Attorney’s Office wrote in court papers. “Equally troubling is the fact that the defendant committed this offense less than four months after serving a sentence for robbing the exact same bank...”

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By  |  08:12 AM ET, 05/04/2012


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