03/28/11 — Bank robber get 16 years in prison

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Bank robber get 16 years in prison

By Staff Reports
Published in News on March 28, 2011 1:46 PM

RALEIGH -- A Pikeville man has been sentenced to 16 years in prison for robbing the Heritage Bank in Fremont last year.

Clifton Earl Johnson, 59, was sentenced in federal court to 16 years in prison, U.S. Attorney George B. Holding announced Saturday.

Johnson was arrested minutes after the robbery, following an exchange of gunfire with then-police Chief Ronald Rawlings.

Johnson pleaded guilty in October to armed bank robbery and using or carrying a firearm during and in relation to a crime of violence in connection with the June 9 incident. He was sentenced by United States District Judge James C. Dever III.

Court documents said his imprisonment will be followed by five years of supervised release. He also was ordered to pay a $10,000 fine.

Prosecutors said that during the robbery Johnson pointed a gun at the bank manager's head and said, "Fill this bag with $100s and $50s."

He ordered a customer to lay on the floor and all the employees to get into the bank vault, where one of them filled his bag with cash, prosecutors said. He then ordered to employees to lay on the floor and fled, and a worker activated the alarm.

Johnson was confronted by Rawlings near Thompson's Mini-storage, about a block away from the bank on Wilson Street.

Prosecutors said Johnson pointed his gun at the police chief, who fired four times without hitting the suspect. Johnson did not fire his weapon but surrendered to Wayne County Sheriff's Office deputies, who had also responded to the emergency call.