Durham man pleads guilty to robbing Suntrust

Mar. 20, 2013 @ 10:35 PM

A man who was arrested after the robbery of Suntrust Bank on Corcoran Street in downtown Durham last year has pleaded guilty to the robbery in federal court.

Joe Lee Adams, who was 55 when he robbed the bank on Sept. 6, 2012, pleaded guilty bank during a hearing in U.S. Court in Winston-Salem on Jan. 7. Adams is scheduled for sentencing on June 16.

Under the terms of the agreement, he could be sentenced to up to 20 years in prison and pay up to a $250,000 fine.

According to the factual basis for the plea, a teller at the bank told Durham police that a man came into the bank shortly after 9 a.m., stopped at the round table in the lobby, wrote out a deposit slip and then walked over and handed it to her. The deposit slip said, “It a hold up 3000 dollars.” (sic)

“The suspect also pulled up his shirt in a manner which the teller took to mean that he had a gun in his waistband, though no gun was seen,” the court document stated.

The teller handed the man money in $10 and $20 bills, and then he fled on foot.

When a Durham police officer watched the video footage from the bank, he recognized the defendant from his time working as an off-duty security officer at Durham Center Access, a mental health and substance abuse crisis center.

The officer went to the center and was able identify the man in the video. The officer then drove to the defendant’s apartment complex, saw Adams and placed him under arrest.

The officer found a large number of $10 and $20 bills in his pocket. Upon questioning, Adams said he didn’t rob the bank. However, when the officer told Adams he could see Adams’s watch and ring in the video, Adams admitted that he had robbed the bank. He gave details about the robbery and told the officer where to find the clothes he wore during the robbery.