WASHINGTON – A young woman dubbed the "cell phone bandit" pleaded guilty Tuesday to charges that could put her behind bars for the rest of her life.
Candice R. Martinez, 19, stood before a U.S. District Court judge in suburban Alexandria, Va., and entered guilty pleas to charges of conspiracy to commit bank robbery and brandishing a firearm during a crime of violence. Under a plea deal, the U.S. Attorney dropped four counts of bank robbery. Sentencing was set for March 3.
Martinez admitted conspiring with her boyfriend to rob four northern Virginia Wachovia Bank branches. In one of the robberies, a surveillance video captured her calmly talking on her cell phone while at the teller's cage, waiting for the money to be handed over. The tape was played repeatedly on TV worldwide.
In one case, Martinez pulled a .38 caliber revolver given to her by the boyfriend, Dave C. Williams.
The robberies in Vienna, Springfield, Manassas and Ashburn, from Oct. 12 to Nov. 4, netted the couple $48,620. Barely $4,770 has been recovered.
Williams, also 19, pleaded guilty to the same charges as Martinez on Dec. 1. Both admitted using Williams' computer and printer to type out demand notes which threatened to shoot the teller or someone nearby. Williams — who once worked at the Vienna bank — also confessed to being on the other end of the calls while Martinez was in the bank, and to driving the getaway car each time.
Martinez was arrested Nov. 15, just hours after police took Williams into custody. Dressed in a green jail uniform, Martinez said little in court Tuesday, other than to answer the judge's questions with a yes or no.
As part of their pleas, both Martinez and Williams will forfeit several big ticket items purchased with their ill-gotten gains, including a 1997 Acura Integra, a plasma TV, designer clothes and a bedroom set.