'Cell Phone Bandit' Bankrobber Gets 12 Years in Prison

Candice R. Martinez, a young woman dubbed the "cell phone bandit," was sentenced Friday to 12 years in prison for her role in the robberies of four Wachovia Bank branches in northern Virginia last year.

Martinez, 20, gained notoriety after one of the robberies was captured on a surveillance video. The images showed her calmly chatting on her cell phone while a nervous teller complied with typed instructions demanding cash.

The videotape was broadcast repeatedly worldwide.

U.S. District Judge Gerald Bruce Lee sentenced Martinez to five years on the charge of conspiracy to commit bank robbery and seven years on a firearms charge.

Martinez, appearing in a black and white prison uniform, said she still was not sure what prompted her to participate in the robberies.

"It happened in a matter of weeks, but it seemed like seconds," Martinez said.

She tearfully apologized to the bank tellers — two of whom were in court — for her actions.

"My whole life is ruined," Martinez said.

Martinez learned her fate one week after her boyfriend was sentenced to 12 years in prison for his role in the robberies.

Dave C. Williams, 19, of Fairfax, had admitted being on the phone with Martinez and driving the getaway car.

The four robberies occurred in Vienna, Springfield, Manassas and Ashburn from Oct. 12 to Nov. 4., and netted the couple $48,620.

Martinez, who grew up in Santa Fe, N.M., and Williams were students at Northern Virginia Community College when the robberies occurred.

Investigators have said they used the proceeds from the robberies to buy clothing, a plasma screen television, a bedroom set and a 1997 Accura Integra.

Williams was arrested Nov. 14 and Martinez was arrested several hours later. Both pleaded guilty in December.

Investigators have said Wachovia branches were targeted because Williams used to work for the bank, and was familiar with the company's procedures.