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4 years in prison for culprit in Pr. George's bank robbery plot

Ruben Castaneda

One of the men involved in a robbery scheme in which a bank manager who lived in Clinton, and her family, were held hostage overnight, was sentenced Friday to four years in prison.

In the Upper Marlboro Courthouse, Circuit Court Judge Sheila R. Tillerson-Adams imposed the sentence on Yosef Tadele, 24, of Silver Spring. Tadele had pleaded guilty of being an accessory after the fact to kidnapping in the December 2008 attack.

During the sentencing hearing, Tadele claimed that his friends had tricked him into participating in the robbery attempt, and said he is sorry. "I really want to apologize to the family and the kids," Tadele said.

One of Tadele's victims, James Spruill, the husband of bank manager LaChrista Hamilton, was not impressed. Spruill told the judge he didn't want an apology, "I just want justice."

On the evening of Dec. 26, 2008, Tadele and two accomplices waited for Hamilton, an employee at a SunTrust Bank in Silver Spring, to return to her home in Clinton after a shift. When Hamilton arrived, two of the attackers forced their way into the home. The two wore masks and were armed with a gun and a knife.

The attackers tied up Hamilton, Spruill and their children, ages 11 and 8 at the time, and held them overnight.

Prosecutors said Tadele drove the attackers to the home.

Yohannes T. Surafel, 25, said he would go to the bank with Hamilton while the rest of the family would be taken to another location. To keep his family together, Spruill said they were expecting a visitor in the morning.

Surafel decided to keep the family together, and they all piled into the family car on the morning of Dec. 27, a Saturday, for the drive to the Silver Spring bank.

As he drove on the Beltway near Route 1 about 7:30 a.m., Spruill spotted a Maryland state trooper in his rearview mirror and deliberately swerved. The state trooper pulled Spruill to the shoulder.

When the trooper asked for his license, Spruill provided his bankcard instead, to signal something was wrong. Spruill then lunged into the back seat, pinning Surafel's hands while he warned the trooper about a gun. The trooper drew his weapon, and Surafel surrendered.

Earlier this month, Surafel, of the District, pleaded guilty to kidnapping and other charges. He is scheduled to be sentenced April 30.

Prince George’s officials said that after Tadele serves his sentence, he will be turned over to federal immigration authorities. Tadele, who was born in Ethiopia, is suspected of being in the country illegally, authorities said.

A third suspect remains at large, officials said.

By Ruben Castaneda  |  March 26, 2010; 5:23 PM ET
Categories:  Maryland , Montgomery , Pr. George's , Ruben Castaneda , The Region  
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