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Bank robber worked with accomplice, police say

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Sebastian arrested Dec. 11, but officials decline to say if suspect will be questioned

By J.R. Williams-jrwilliams@nvdaily.com

WINCHESTER -- The man who robbed the Berryville Avenue United Bank branch on Nov. 29 acted with an accomplice, city police said Monday.

Surveillance video from the heist shows the robber did not act alone, according to Winchester police Sgt. Frank Myrtle. A suspect has not yet been identified, he said.

Myrtle declined to say whether anyone has been questioned about their involvement and would not comment on statements made to police by the man accused in the robbery.

Benjamin Luzan Sebastian, 32, of Inwood, W.Va., was arrested on Dec. 11 in connection with the United Bank holdup and the Nov. 4 robbery of the downtown Bank of Clarke County.

Police have said he confessed to both crimes.

Myrtle said an accomplice is not suspected in the Bank of Clarke County robbery.

As part of a joint investigation with the FBI, authorities in Loudoun and Fairfax counties also have charged Sebastian in four other robberies between Oct. 6 and Nov. 20.

Sebastian is incarcerated at the Eastern Regional Jail in Martinsburg pending court proceedings.

According to an arrest warrant filed in Jefferson County (W.Va.) Magistrate Court, United Bank surveillance video showed a Chevrolet Silverado extended cab pickup turn around behind the bank before the robbery.

The truck was later found to be registered to Sebastian.

As the robber was entering the bank, "the same truck drove beside the bank and went to the access road between the lot behind the bank and Elm Street," it says.

After the robbery, "the male fled the bank on foot and appeared to get in the Chevy truck on the access road" before escaping.

A motorist reported seeing a similar truck with an unusual bumper sticker that day at the Va. 7-Interstate 81 interchange.

An off-duty Loudoun County deputy spotted the truck in Ranson, W.Va., and recorded the license-plate number. Sebastian was placed under surveillance and arrested three days later.

Spokesmen for Loudoun County and Fairfax authorities said Monday that no charges have been filed against anyone other than Sebastian in connection with the robberies in their jurisdictions.

The incidents remain under investigation, they said.

Meanwhile, on Wednesday, the Union First Market Bank on U.S. 50 east became the fifth bank since May to be robbed in Winchester and Frederick County. According to official reports, a masked white man armed with a gun demanded money and escaped in a maroon Honda Accord with chrome trim.

Frederick County Sheriff's Maj. Robert Eckman said Monday the suspect in that heist was still at large.

Anyone with information about any of the robberies may call the Crime Solvers anonymous tip line at 665-TIPS.

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