WOODSTOCK — The Waynesboro man accused of robbing the Sonabank in New Market earlier this year pleaded guilty to the charges on Wednesday.
George Giovanna Wood, 50, walked into the Shenandoah County Circuit Court on Wednesday and, with his attorney, announced he was ready to plead guilty although no deal with the Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office had been reached.
Wood entered two Alford pleas — a plea entered when a defendant believes himself to be innocent but acknowledges prosecutors have enough evidence to likely find him guilty — to two conspiracy to commit robbery charges and guilty to the larceny and robbery charges leveled against him.
According to the Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office, Wood went to Sonabank in New Market on Jan. 23 to take enough money to pay off rent debts he and his longtime partner Stacey Bevan, had incurred.
Amanda Strecky, the assistant commonwealth’s attorney prosecuting Wood, said police had spoken with Wood and Bevan’s landlord during their investigation and found that he had told them they were going to be evicted. The landlord was asked by Wood that if he could come up with the $2,500 he owed if he would be allowed to stay, Strecky said.
The landlord told police he told Wood that if he could make the payment on his debt he and Bevan would not be evicted, prosecutors said. Within hours of telling that to the couple, Wood handed the cash to the landlord, Strecky said.
Bevan was also charged in concert with the robbery. She faced two charges of larceny of checks and was released on her own recognizance. Prosecutors dropped the charges against Bevan but can bring them back in the next 12 months via an indictment from a grand jury.
Prosecutors say Bevan helped Wood with the robbery, including offering the location and driving them from Augusta County to New Market on Jan. 23.
On that day, video and camera footage shows a man walking into the bank and the same man outside in the parking lot. Prosecutors say Wood handed a note to one of the tellers demanding the $50 and $100 bills in the till. At no point, Strecky said, did Wood use, show or brandish a firearm during the incident.
The teller told police he never felt that he was in fear of his life, but that he handed over the money because tellers are trained to not get involved, Strecky said.
Wood left the bank with approximately $4,050 and got back into the car with Bevan and they took back roads back to Augusta County, Strecky said.
Police posted footage of the vehicle at the bank on social media to help garner leads on the suspects. An anonymous tip, Strecky said, came in that led police to trace the vehicle to Wood and Bevan.
When they were arrested and interviewed separately — Strecky said their interviews were recorded with audio and video — both Wood and Bevan provided evidence to show they took part in the robbery.
Wood will remain at the Rappahannock-Shenandoah-Warren County Regional Jail until Aug. 20 when he will return to court for sentencing.