Everything was in place. The would-be robber had been casing a savings and loan association in the Great Falls area for days. The suspicious teller was ready to sound the alarm on a moment's notice. The police were standing watch, ready to nab the robber.

Finally, according to court records and testimony, the would-be robber made his move on July 30. He marched into the building and up to a teller. And when he stepped back into the parking lot, gun-toting policemen closed in and surrounded him. He was caught in the act.

Or so Fairfax County police thought.

But then the teller raced out to say it was all a mistake. No, the man had not robbed the office. Yes, he had planned to rob it. But when it came down to committing the crime, he went inside to say he had changed his mind. Robbery just wouldn't be the right thing to do, he told the teller.

Police were baffled. They asked county prosecutors to file attempted robbery charges against the man. No way, replied the commonwealth's attorney's office. The man was charged, however, with petit larceny for using stolen automobile tags, said Assistant Commonwealth's Attorney Corrinne Magee.

And yesterday, the would-be robber, Frank Fuller Jordan, 35, a Montgomery County financial management systems salesman who is paid $72,000 a year, was sentenced to a year in jail and fined $250 for the charge of using stolen license plates. General District Judge J. Conrad Waters Jr. suspended the jail time and ordered Jordan, who had pleaded guilty to the license charge, to continue psychiatric treatment for a year.

Attorneys for Jordan told the judge that Jordan planned the robbery because he was under "extreme financial pressure."

"The financial pressures you were under were no different than those of almost everyone else in these economic times," Waters said, adding that Jordan's salary is, "except for a few attorneys, more than anyone else in this courtoom makes, including me."

"The purpose of stealing the license plates was to prepare to rob a bank to solve your financial pressures," Waters said. "But for a change of heart, or perhaps nervousness, it didn't come to fruition."

Waters termed the planned robbery "frightening in view of your education and earning ability." Jordan has a bachelor's degrees in public affairs and business administration, according to court records.

Jordan reportedly staked out several banking institutions before selecting the Great Falls savings and loan, Magee said.

A teller at the savings and loan called police after she noticed a person loitering around the parking lot for several days, Magee said. "He then went in and said to the teller: 'I know you've been watching me, but don't worry, I'm not going to rob you,' " Magee said Jordan told police.