The ringleader of a wigged bank robbing crew that struck Atlanta area banks, including in Conyers and Covington, during a two-year spree recently entered a guilty plea in federal court.
Ali Isiah Cole faced 10 counts of armed robbery and one count of gun posession in connection with 13 heists carried out during 2010-2012, according to the Atlanta Journal Constitution. He entered a guilty plea to those charges Wednesday, on the second day of his trial.
Cole had reportedly organized and served as a lookout on most of the robberies, calling the shots from a separate car while two members of his crew entered the bank and a third served as the getaway driver. But Cole but also reportedly led carjackings of the getaway vehicles.
The robbers occasionally dressed in long flashy wigs to disguise their identities during the takeover-style robberies.
The crew struck a Conyers Wachovia (now Wells Fargo) bank on Dogwood Drive on Aug. 25, 2010. The crew struck a Covington BB&T bank the next day.
Cole's first crew - Kelton Malik Huger, Lucius Oliver Service and Yaharam Ben Israel - were caught in October 2010 while fleeing the robbery of a Chase Bank on Panola Road.
He then recruited another bank robbing crew - Carlton Maurice Clifton, Henry Johnson and Ebanga Samuel Asuamah - and continued with the robberies. Cole was arrested in July 2011 after the robbery of a Suntrust bank in Fayetteville. The second crew members continued to rob banks and were arrested in early 2012.
Cole and his accomplices have yet to be sentenced.
During the two-year spree, Wells Fargo Bank offered up to $25,000 in reward money for information leading to the arrest of these suspects.
Some of the 13 robberies over two years may have included:
9/8/2010 - Wachovia Bank, 3520 Centerville Highway, Snellville; twp black males wearing masks and brandishing handguns forced customers to the floor and one suspect vaulted over the teller counter. During the robbery, one shot was fired into the bank's ceiling by one of the robbers. The robbers obtained an undisclosed amount of money and were seen departing in a Dodge Magnum, which was recovered nearby and determined to have been stolen from Cobb County several days prior.
7/27/10 - Wachovia, Clairmont Rd, Atlanta/Dekalb County, GA. Two black males, wigs, guns, takeover-style, 10:44 a.m.
7/30/10 - Chase Bank, 5552 Chamblee Dunwoody Road, Dunwoody, GA. Four males entered the bank, demanded money; two of the males were armed with pistols and a third was armed with an assault rifle; described as black males, wearing dark clothing and ski masks; ranged in height from 5'5" - 5'10" tall. 10:15 a.m.
8/16 /10 - Wachovia Bank, 3374 Holcomb Bridge Rd., (Holcomb Corners) Norcross, GA. Two black males, wearing wigs, displaying guns, takeover-style robbery. 10:20 a.m.
8/20/10 - Chase Bank, 1050 E. Piedmont Rd. (Piedmont Commons), Marietta, GA. Two black males, armed takeover-style robbery, wearing masks, no wigs. 1:11 p.m.
8/25/10 - Wachovia Bank, 1280 Dogwood Rd, Conyers, GA. Two black males, wearing wigs, displaying guns, takeover-style robbery. 10:43 a.m.
8/26/10 - BB&T, Covington, GA. One black male, takeover-style robbery, stolen silver Lexus recovered.
8/27/10 - Chase Bank, 2079 S. Hairston Rd. (Hairston Crossing) Decatur, GA. Two black males, guns displayed, takeover-style robbery, no wigs. 10:15 a.m.