By Joe Beck
A man accused of robbing a Middletown bank pleaded guilty to a robbery charge Tuesday in Frederick County Circuit Court and was sentenced to nine years in prison under a plea agreement reached with the prosecution.
Authorities arrested Scott Alexander Wessells, 25, of 106 Ettawah, Winchester on March 19 less than two hours after he entered the BB&T bank at 7800 Main St. in Middletown and handed a note to a teller claiming that he had a bomb with him.
Wessells demanded money from two drawers, according to court records. The teller gave Wessells $10,264, all but $92 of which police recovered days later.
Wessells fled in a car, but was arrested soon afterward at an apartment complex in Strasburg.
Rich Cooley, a photographer with The Northern Virginia Daily, helped police locate Wessells. Cooley, who was driving to the crime scene, noticed a suspicious vehicle turning onto Signal Knob Road in Strasburg and contacted police.
The prosecution agreed to drop a charge of driving on a suspended license as part of the plea agreement with Wessells. Wessells also admitted to several probation violations as part of the agreement.
His total sentence on the bank robbery charge is 20 years, 11 of which Circuit Judge John E. Wetsel Jr. agreed to suspend under terms of the plea agreement.
Commonwealth's Attorney Ross Spicer called the sentence a proper balance between the seriousness of the offense and mitigating factors.
"We don't underestimate the seriousness of the crime," Spicer said. "There's no question this type of thing can cause serious trauma to the victim and other people put in harm's way.
"On the other hand, the investigation revealed he did not have a weapon, which justified some mitigation. Hopefully, Mr. Wessells will learn from his mistakes and lead a lawful and law abiding life."
Contact staff writer Joe Beck at 540-465-5137 ext. 142, or firstname.lastname@example.org