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Posted at 12:33 PM ET, 02/24/2012

Stephanie Schwab pleads not guilty to string of November crimes


Stephanie Schwab. (AP)
A young mother the media dubbed the “blonde bandit” pleaded not guilty to charges Friday related to a series of bank robberies and carjackings she is alleged to have committed in November.

Stephanie L. Schwab, 26, who grew up in Manassas, was arraigned in federal court in Alexandria. She faces six charges including two counts of bank robbery, attempted bank robbery and three counts of transporting stolen vehicles across state lines.

Schwab’s alleged 13-day spree in Maryland and Northern Virginia drew headlines because of the brazen nature of the crimes.

On Nov. 18, Schwab allegedly stole a car from her sister-in-law’s house and then robbed a Virginia Commerce Bank in Manassas, making off with more than $1,300.

The next day, authorities said, she carjacked a woman at knifepoint at Tysons II Galleria. On Nov. 22, she allegedly robbed a BB&T branch in West Springfield of about $1,800.

On Thanksgiving, police said Schwab carjacked a woman at knifepoint in Baltimore County. The woman was cut on the hand during a tussle.

Schwab was arrested Nov. 30 after police said she tried to rob another BB&T branch in McLean.

Schwab requested a jury trial, which was scheduled for May 22.

Friends and family members said she was spurred by a drug habit that was spiraling out of control. They said she had been living an itinerant existence, moving from hotel room to hotel room, before the spree began.

Schwab, a former member of the MS-13 gang, had testified against members at a high-profile murder trial in 2005. She was later placed in a federal witness protection program, family members said, but eventually dropped out.

Schwab answered a judge’s questions at the arraignment Friday, but did not speak otherwise while in court. At the time of her alleged crimes, Schwab’s mother was caring for her children.

Read more: The Post’s crime coverage

By  |  12:33 PM ET, 02/24/2012

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