08 02 2014

James Butler Says ‘Guilty’ To Bank Robbery Charges

By Larry Briscoe
Correspondent
One of two brothers arrested here last year on bank robbery and weapons charges has pleaded guilty and entered into a plea agreement in federal district court in Dallas. The second brother pleaded innocent and is scheduled for trial April 22.
James Robert Cleveland Butler and Johnny Charles Butler were arrested Thursday, Aug. 2, by Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) agents when they executed a search warrant at the Butlers’ home on Cody Lane, immediately south of Quinlan off Spur 264.
U.S. Attorney’s Office spokesperson Kathy Colvin said James Butler is scheduled to be sentenced May 29 after he pleaded guilty and entered into a plea agreement with authorities.
Colvin said Johnny Butler would be tried in Dallas before U.S. District Judge Jorge A. Solis.
The Butlers are charged in connection with robberies at the Bank of America in Forney on Nov. 25, 2011, and again on May 18, 2012.
According to court documents, James Butler also admitted to bank robberies at the Bank of America on Webb Chapel Road in Dallas on Feb. 9, 2011; and Wells Fargo Bank in Irving on April 18, 2011, and again on June 16, 2011.
The first count of robbery was filed in the Nov. 25, 2011, incident at Forney.
“James Butler (hereafter ‘Butler’) and Johnny Butler entered the above-referenced bank with the specific intent to commit bank robbery. Butler and Johnny Butler each wore a mask and gloves to disguise their identities. During the course of the bank robbery and in order to facilitate the commission of the robbery, Butler brandished a .38 caliber pistol and Johnny Butler brandished a .357 caliber pistol,” the documents state.
“Upon entering the bank, Johnny Butler forced the customers and bank employees to the floor at gunpoint. Butler then jumped the teller counter and demanded the keys to the teller drawers. The tellers, being placed in fear for their lives, gave Butler the keys to their teller drawers. Butler emptied the teller drawers and placed approximately $69,745 in United States currency in a dark-colored, plastic bag. Butler jumped back over the counter and exited the bank with Johnny Butler. They entered a white Hyundai Sonata, which they previously altered or removed the license plate to avoid detection, and drove away westbound on U.S. Highway 80,” the document states.
Counts two and three were filed in the second robbery at the same bank in Forney.
The court document states, “Butler and Johnny Butler entered the above-referenced bank with the specific intent to commit bank robbery. Butler and Johnny Butler each wore a mask and gloves to disguise their identities. During the course of the bank robbery and in order to facilitate the commission of the robbery, Butler brandished a .38 caliber pistol and Johnny Butler brandished a .357 caliber pistol.
“Prior to entering the bank, Butler and Johnny Butler forced two customers from the parking lot to enter the bank at gunpoint. Once inside the bank, Johnny Butler forced all of the customers and bank employees to the floor at gunpoint. Butler then jumped the teller counter and demanded the money from the teller drawers.
“The tellers, being placed in fear for their lives, unlocked the teller drawers. Butler emptied the teller drawers and placed approximately $27,860 in United States currency in a light-colored, plastic bag. Butler jumped back over the counter and exited the bank with Johnny Butler.
“They entered a black Dodge Durango, which they previously altered or removed the license plate to avoid detection, and drove away westbound on U.S. Highway 80.”
Under “Stipulated Facts, Uncharged Conduct,” James Butler also admitted to other bank robberies including one on Feb. 9, 2011, at the Webb Chapel Road in Dallas branch of Bank of America.
The document states, “James Butler (hereafter ‘Butler’) and Johnny Butler went to the above-referenced bank with the intent to rob an armored car. When the armored car did not show, Butler and Johnny Butler decided to rob the bank.
“Butler stayed in the getaway vehicle, a green Jeep Cherokee, and provided lookout, while Johnny Butler entered the bank to commit the robbery. Johnny Butler wore a mask and gloves to disguise his identity. During the course of the bank robbery and in order to facilitate the commission of the robbery, Johnny Butler brandished a 9mm semi-automatic pistol. Upon entering the bank, Johnny Butler forced the customers and bank employees in the lobby to the floor at gunpoint.
“Butler then approached the victim teller and demanded money. The teller, being placed in fear for her life, removed $3,375 in U.S. currency from her drawer and placed it into a yellow plastic bag provided by Johnny Butler. Johnny Butler then exited the bank and entered the Cherokee, where Butler was waiting as the getaway driver. Butler then drove them away from the bank.”
The documents state the Wells Fargo Bank in Irving on April 18, 2011, was the target of another robbery to which James Butler admitted guilt.
“Butler and Johnny Butler entered the above-referenced bank with the specific intent to commit bank robbery. Butler and Johnny Butler each wore a mask and gloves to disguise their identities,” the documents state. “During the course of the bank robbery and in order to facilitate the commission of the robbery, Butler brandished a .38 caliber pistol and Johnny Butler brandished a .357 caliber pistol.
“Upon entering the bank, Johnny Butler forced all of the customers and bank employees to the floor at gunpoint. Butler then jumped the teller counter and demanded the money from the teller drawers. The tellers, being placed in fear for their lives, allowed Butler to remove $10,309 in U.S. currency from their teller drawers.
“Butler placed the money inside a bag strapped over his shoulder, jumped back over the counter and exited the bank with Johnny Butler. They entered a black Dodge Durango, which they previously altered or removed the license plate to avoid detection, and drove away from the bank.”
The Wells Fargo Bank in Irving was the target, according to the documents, again on June 16, 2011.
The documents state, “Butler and Johnny Butler entered the above-referenced bank with the specific intent to commit bank robbery. Butler and Johnny Butler each wore a mask and gloves to disguise their identities.
“During the course of the bank robbery and in order to facilitate the commission of the robbery, Butler brandished a .38 caliber pistol and Johnny Butler brandished a .357 caliber pistol. Upon entering the bank, Johnny Butler forced all of the customers and bank employees to the floor at gunpoint.
“Butler then jumped the teller counter and demanded the money from the teller drawers. The tellers, being placed in fear for their lives, allowed Butler to remove $12,746 in U.S. currency from their teller drawers.
“Butler placed the money inside of a dark-colored bag, jumped back over the counter and exited the bank with Johnny Butler. They entered a black Dodge Durango, which they previously altered or removed the license plate to avoid detection, and drove away from the bank.”
The sentencing agreement terms for James Butler state, “…the parties agree that the appropriate term of imprisonment in this case is 300 months, to be imposed as follows: 216 months imprisonment on Counts One and Two (bank robbery) to run concurrently with each other, and 84 months imprisonment on Count Three (using, carrying and brandishing a firearm during and in relation to, and possession of a firearm in furtherance of, a crime of violence) to run consecutive to the term of imprisonment on Counts One and Two.
“If the court accepts this plea agreement, this provision is binding on the court. Other than the agreed terms of imprisonment, the court remains free to determine the sentence it deems appropriate, under the advisory United States Sentencing Guidelines.”
If the court rejected the agreement, Butler would be allowed to withdraw his guilty plea.
Other provisions include, “Butler shall give complete and truthful information and-or testimony concerning his participation in the offense of conviction.
The agreement also states Butler also agreed to pay restitution in the amount of $102,129.60 to Bank of America and $23,055 to Wells Fargo Bank.
A forfeiture paragraph states, “The defendant agrees to forfeit all right, title, and interest in the following property to the United States of America: $1,508 in U.S. currency seized by the Quinlan Police Department from the person of James Robert Cleveland Butler on or about Dec. 31, 2011.
Other items to be forfeited included a Smith & Wesson .357 caliber pistol, and any ammunition recovered with the firearm, seized by the FBI from Butler’s residence on Cody Lane on or about Aug. 2, 2012;
A Smith & Wesson .38 caliber pistol and any ammunition recovered with the firearm, seized by the FBI from Butler’s residence on or about Aug. 2, 2012;
An Arsenal 7.62 x 39mm rifle and any ammunition recovered with the firearm, seized by the FBI from Butler’s residence on or about Aug. 2, 2012;
A Colt .223 caliber rifle and any ammunition recovered with the firearm, seized by the FBI from Butler’s residence on or about Aug. 2, 2012;
A Phoenix Arms .25 caliber pistol and any ammunition recovered with the firearm, seized by the FBI from Butler’s residence on or about Aug. 2, 2012; and
A Ruger 9mm pistol and any ammunition recovered with the firearm, seized by the FBI from Butler’s residence on or about Aug. 2, 2012.
The FBI raid here was underway at about dawn when The Quinlan-Tawakoni News arrived at the scene. FBI Supervisory Special Agent Michael LaPlante and Special Agent Michael Hillman informed The News shots had been fired.
When asked about possible injuries to agents or suspects, Hillman answered no agents were injured.
However, an AMR ambulance soon left with one of the suspects who was later identified as Johnny Charles Butler, 46. He was taken to Hunt Regional Medical Center in Greenville. A medical helicopter had been placed on standby in the parking lot of W.H. Ford High School, a landing site prepared by Quinlan and West Tawakoni firefighters.
A second suspect and brother of the first, James Butler, 43, was seen taken from the scene in a Department of Public Safety patrol car, driven by Cpl. S.E. Simpson.
Garland Ellstrom, a Garland police officer assigned to the FBI’s Safe Street Violent Crime Task Force that investigates bank robberies, described events during the raid when the search warrant was executed.
“Both Johnny Butler and James Butler initially refused to exit the residence. The decision was made to deploy gas into the residence. At one point during the gas deployment, shots were fired from the Butler residence at SWAT agents. Agents fired shots into the residence. Negotiators were able to obtain contact with the subjects inside and determined that Johnny Butler had been shot in the shoulder. Negotiators were able to convince both Johnny and James Butler to come outside and give themselves up,” the officer states.
Ellstrom said both were taken into custody — Johnny was taken by ambulance to a hospital, and James was taken to the sheriff’s office; Johnny was then treated and released into custody.
The officer states both suspects admitted they committed the Forney bank robbery as well as four other bank robberies in the Dallas area. He said they identified themselves in video images from the five bank robberies.

 

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