POMEROY —A Meigs County woman who robbed a Tuppers Plains bank last summer and was in the midst of planning another will spend the next nine years of her life behind bars.
Amanda Sawyer, who robbed the Tuppers Plains Farmers Bank June 2 and was arrested July 27 while planning to rob the TNT Pit Stop on State Route 7, was given nine years Friday morning in the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction during a sentencing hearing in Meigs County Common Pleas Court.
Sawyer was indicted on four charges Aug. 21, with two charges of second-degree felony robbery, both counts one and four, a charge of felony robbery in the third degree, which was count two, and a kidnapping charge, which is a felony in the third degree.
During Friday’s sentencing hearing, Meigs County Prosecuting Attorney Colleen Williams and Assistant Prosecuting Attorney Jeremy Fisher represented the state, with Lawyer Douglas Francis, of Athens, acting as Sawyer’s defense council.
Sawyer pleaded guilty to amended charges on Dec. 10, 2015, with count one remaining the same and count four being amended to a felony in the third degree. After sentencing for counts one and four, Judge Dean Evans of Gallia County, who heard the case, dropped counts two and three. Along with nine years in prison, Sawyer has been ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $6,529 — the exact amount she stole from Farmers Bank on June 2.
Sawyer, 32, of Reedsville, was arrested July 27 when she turned her vehicle onto State Route 7 in front of Deputy Michael Hupp, according to Williams. Hupp made a traffic stop because Sawyer’s vehicle was missing the back license plate and because she was going only 20 mph on the highway.
While talking to Sawyer, Hupp found a homemade face cover, disposable gloves and a butcher’s knife inside the vehicle. Seeing these items, he placed Sawyer under arrest and took her to the sheriff’s office, where she allegedly admitted to robbing the Tuppers Plains bank. She also allegedly eventually told deputies she was planning a robbery of the TNT Pit Stop in Chester but, upon seeing the officer’s vehicle behind her, kept driving.
During the June 2 robbery, a woman was seen on surveillance video wearing a nylon stocking over her head and sunglasses. It was later reported that she also had a toy pop gun at her disposal. After taking $6,529, the robber fled on foot through the front door, ran to the side of the building opposite the ATM and through the grass behind the bank, and got into a vehicle parked by a baseball field lot and drove off.
Farmers Bank employees attended the sentencing hearing, with three employees reading statements requesting the maximum sentence for Sawyer and sharing with those in attendance what this has cost the bank not only financially, but psychologically.
The first to speak was Branch Manager Jessica Staley, who said that while she wasn’t in the building at the time, she’s seen the adverse effect the robbery has had on all of the bank employees.
“This has affected all of the employees, whether they were inside the building or not, because we are like a family,” she said. She added that along with emotional costs, the robbery cost the bank money in terms of security updates. Currently, customers must be buzzed in one at a time, with new cameras and a security system thanks to Sawyer’s actions, she said.
“The employees who lived through this have had their lives permanently altered,” she said.
Cynthia Durst, an employee who was working that day, said she remembers seeing Sawyer come in and that something wasn’t quite right. She described Sawyer going back and forth between the first and second bank window in an attempt to grab as much money as she could before leaving.
“This all took place in two minutes, and I could not describe how long that two minutes lasted,” she said.
Lastly, Mike Lieving, who oversees the Mason and Point Pleasant branches of Farmers Bank, spoke on behalf of the company. He said this has affected the way the business runs, also citing the emotional and financial costs to the branch.
“You can’t truly understand how deeply it’s touched their lives,” he said. “We’ve re-emphasized that we’ll do whatever is possible to protect our community and our employees. Give the maximum penalty, that’s what I’m asking you to do.”
Sawyer was given the opportunity to speak and said she made the irrational decision because her home was about to be taken away from her and her family, and her husband didn’t have a job at the time.
“But that doesn’t excuse what I did, and I’m sorry. I really am sorry,” she said.
Once sentencing was complete, Sawyer was immediately taken into custody to await transportation to prison, with a reminder that once she is released from prison there will be a lifetime firearm ban in place because of her use of a weapon, albeit a fake one. Judge Evans ruled that Sawyer could also be credited for time served and whatever time is served waiting for prison transport. He denied Francis’ request for Sawyer’s last six months of ankle bracelet time to be credited to her prison time.
Williams said she and the bank members were pleased with the outcome of Friday’s sentencing.
“We are satisfied with the sentence that we had requested, and we feel that there is a need to protect the public and punish the offender, and we feel that that was served,” she said.
Reach Lindsay Kriz at 740-992-2155 EXT. 2555.