Man may plead guilty in Tupelo bank heist

By Patsy R. Brumfield/NEMS Daily Journal

MEMPHIS, Tenn. – A Georgia man who admits to a Cordova, Tenn., armed bank robbery, may take credit for Tupelo’s Trustmark Bank robbery in July 2011.
Memphis police arrested Robert Thomas Shantz and Johnny Leon Harris on July 15, 2011, after a Bank of Bartlett branch in Cordova was robbed at gunpoint.
Shantz, 33, admitted to authorities that he started robbing banks from Georgia to Arkansas because his taxi business was in financial trouble.
Trustmark Bank on West Main Street in Tupelo was robbed July 3, 2011, and according to documents, Shantz told officials it was his first time to carry a pistol for the task.
In Shantz’ Oct. 4 plea agreement in Memphis federal court, he agreed to plead guilty to indictments pending against him in the Northern District of Mississippi, which includes Tupelo. The case is listed as sealed in the court’s electronic documents system.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office in Oxford did not respond to inquiries about whether this indictment pertains to the Tupelo robbery.
Shantz also agreed to admit to an eastern Arkansas indictment, as well as charges to be filed in Georgia and Alabama federal court districts to be transferred to the Western Tennessee district.
If Shantz decides not to plead guilty to these out-of-district cases, his plea agreement states, he understands that he will not be allowed to withdraw his guilty plea for the Tennessee robbery.
In a sworn statement to the FBI, Shantz admitted he robbed the banks in Tupelo, Warner Robins, Ga., Oxford, Ala., and Conway and Marion, Ark.
Harris pleaded guilty April 4 to the Cordova robbery and was sentenced to 78 months in prison.
In exchange for his guilty pleas, Tennessee authorities agreed to drop a second count of carrying a firearm in a bank robbery, which is punishable by up to life in prison.
patsy.brumfield@journalinc.com