It was the height of the Holiday shopping season last month, when a middle aged woman wearing sweat pants and a dark colored hat walked into a bank and simply handed a teller a note which read “This is a robbery. Smile & act naturally”. She also told the teller that she was armed and wouldn’t hesitate to use her weapon, “so don’t act like a hero”, even though witnesses to the apparent robbery didn’t see a weapon in the woman’s possession, according to the federal criminal complaint.
After her arrest, which took place three days after the alleged robbery, and after being taken into custody, Sonya Clark, who is fifty two years old and works for a moving company also seemingly confessed to robbing a local branch of a TD bank in Boynton Beach late last year, near her residence. The bank that was hit in Fort Lauderdale was also a TD Bank
Black Friday, the busiest day of the shopping season had just passed but apparently Sonya Clark’s demand for money wasn’t for buying gifts when her bid to rob the Fort Lauderdale bank on East Sunrise Blvd occurred.
Clark’s brother, Steve, who spoke to a local South Florida newspaper from his home in Texas, suspected his sister was in dire straits, and needed the money to purchase illegal drugs. He went on to say “It’s a terrible story… It’s a drug issue that’s happening all over the country.”
The teller relinquished approximately $600 to Clark which was in her drawer but Clark reached over the counter in an apparent attempt to grab more money and retrieve the note that she gave the bank employee. Instead she inadvertently grabbed a blank deposit slip along with any other currency that may have been accessible. The actual amount of money taken is undisclosed at this time.
Later that day, police found a discarded pair of sweat pants and the deposit slip just west of the bank’s location that was later determined to have Clark’s fingerprints on it. Surveillance tapes from the bank also showed a woman that fit her description. She was arrested without incident at her home in Boynton Beach.
In the earlier robbery, the Modus Operandi was basically the same; telling a teller she was armed and handing her a similar note.
According to the suspect’s mother, her daughter came to South Florida seeking work in the late 1980’s. She became addicted to pain killers after having dental implant surgery. From that point forward it appears Clark’s drug use intensified and she moved on to the illegal variety. Her mother was unable to tell investigators exactly what her daughter’s drug of choice was.
Presently, Clark remains in custody and is facing federal bank robbery charges for the most recent case, according to a FBI press release. She has yet to be charged for the first robbery, even though she has apparently admitted to it. Those further charges are pending.
Bank robbery is a Federal crime in the United States. A conviction for committing bank robbery while being armed with a weapon can result in severe penalties of incarceration including sentences of up to life imprisonment depending on the circumstances. Due to these possibilities, to mount a proper defense it is imperative that if an individual is charged with bank robbery or any other federal charge to immediately contact a reputable criminal defense attorney, with experience who primarily works in the federal criminal justice system.
Under the provisions of the bail reform act a Federal Magistrate Judge will determine whether any suspects will be eligible for a bond at their detention hearing. The Federal Magistrate Judge will determine if the defendants are either danger to the community or flight risks before making this determination. Therefore it is important in such cases to retain an attorney who is familiar with federal bail requirements and all other aspects of federal cases.
Michael B. Cohen is a board certified criminal trial lawyer. He is rated AV by Martindale Hubbell (pre-eminent) and is recognized as being in the top 5% of criminal trial law among lawyers in the state of Florida. The Florida Bar considers him a specialist in his field of federal criminal defense. Mr. Cohen has tried a multitude of cases throughout his career as a defense attorney. He is a member of both the Florida and New York Bars.
He is also admitted to practice law in the U. S. Court of Appeals for the 11th & 2nd Circuit.
Michael Cohen is a Fort Lauderdale Criminal Defense Attorney with close to forty years of combined experience working for the prosecution and for almost half that time period defending the Constitutional rights of the citizens of South Florida.