James Albert “Jim” Creason now is officially a recession criminal – a bank robber with an honorable past whose dirty deed appears to be directly attributable to the crippled economy.
After pleading guilty to robbing Heritage Bank of the South in Leesburg, the 52-year-old former music minister at an Edison church and associate pastor at First Baptist Church of Leesburg was sentenced Thursday to 11 years and one month in prison. Creason was convicted of armed bank robbery and brandishing a firearm during a crime of violence. His sentence must be served in its entirety; there is no parole in the federal prison system.
Creason, armed with a .32-caliber handgun, robbed the Heritage bank of about $36,000 on Aug. 8, 2008. After emptying the bank teller’s cash drawer, Creason led two bank employees to the vault where he obtained more funds. Creason’s wife is a former employee of the same bank Creason robbed; Creason wore no mask and called some employees by their names during the heist.
Creason was apprehended in his Chevrolet Avalanche on Lover’s Lane Road by Leesburg police officers minutes after the robbery. The money, a gun and a video surveillance tape that Creason took during the robbery were in his car. Creason told the officers who arrested him that he was sorry for the crime and that he had fallen on hard financial times.
Creason is among a growing list of ordinary people-turned bank robbers who have blamed their actions on financial duress since the start of the recession in late 2007. The Federal Bureau of Investigation reported 1,617 bank robberies in the fourth quarter of 2008, up from 1,358 in the third quarter and 1,561 a year earlier.
Assistant U.S. Attorney K. Alan Dasher prosecuted the case before Judge W. Louis Sands, the U.S. District Court judge for the Middle District of Georgia. The case was investigated by agents with the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Leesburg Police Department.
written by staff reports.