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Family tip led to arrest of 'repeat robber'

Lee Bennett Pope, 37, who has addresses in Garner, Raleigh and Whitakers, was arrested Tuesday morning in connection with a string of bank robberies in the Triangle, police said, and more charges are possible.

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RALEIGH, N.C. — A man arrested Monday night in connection with a string of bank robberies in the Triangle, was turned in by his family, his sister told WRAL Tuesday.

Lee Bennett Pope, 37, who has addresses in Garner, Raleigh and Whitakers, was charged with six counts of common law robbery for crimes in Raleigh, Cary and Chapel Hill that range from Sept. 26 to Oct. 19. He is also charged with one count of attempted common law robbery for a crime in Zebulon on Oct. 8.

The "common law" charge means Pope did not show a weapon. That factor keeps his charges in state court and means he could face a much lighter punishment than had he used a gun in the robberies.

He appeared in court Tuesday and was assigned a public defender. He was being held in the Wake County jail under a $1,036,000 bond until a probable cause hearing scheduled for Nov. 16.

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The arrest comes after at least a dozen robberies in the Triangle area, most within the past month, in which a man with facial hair, wearing sunglasses and a baseball cap handed bank tellers notes demanding money.

In addition to the Wake County bank robberies, federal and local authorities believe the man, whom they dubbed “the Repeat Robber,” was also responsible for three other bank robberies in Durham.

Family members said they tipped off authorities after seeing his photograph on TV.

"Good people make bad mistakes," his sister said. "He's a good person (who) just had a rough life and made a lot of mistakes."

Family members said they suspect financial hardship and drug use led him to commit the crimes.

It was not immediately clear whether Pope has been charged in those cases. Also unclear, was whether he is a suspect in an Aug. 10, 2009, bank robbery in Raleigh that police also linked to the “Repeat Robber.”

A lengthy record

According to the North Carolina Department of Correction, Pope is listed as an absconder from probation supervision. He is on two years’ probation for a July 2010 conviction for selling drugs.

Court records also indicate that he was pulled over Sept. 9 in Durham for driving with a revoked license. Although he had missed a scheduled visit with his probation officer two days earlier, troopers would not have known about that, Pam Walker with the Department of Correction said.

Pope as not found to be in violation of his probation until Sept. 30. A warrant was issued for his arrest on Oct. 4.

Pope also has arrests for a number of drug charges in Durham and Wake counties, as well as charges of misdemeanor larceny and driving without a registration and with expired vehicle tags.

According to federal court records, Pope pleaded guilty to bank robbery in Maryland in 1995. He served 49 months in prison and was released in March 1999 and was on supervised release for two years.

Tips played important role

Raleigh police spokesman Jim Sughrue said members of the department’s Fugitive Unit, with help from Durham police, found Pope Monday night at the intersection of Glendale Avenue and West Lynch Street in Durham

Police there arrested him on an outstanding warrant for violating his probation, and Raleigh detectives took custody of him afterward.

“Tips from the public stemming from news media coverage of the recent bank robbery cases played an important role in identifying Pope as a potential suspect in the robberies,” Sughrue said in a statement.

“Follow-up investigative work by detectives and other elements of law enforcement led to determining his location and to the development of the probable cause required to obtain arrest warrants charging him with the robberies,” he continued.

'Repeat Robber's' targets


Amanda Lamb, Reporter
Kelcey Carlson, Reporter
Chad Flowers, Photographer
Kelly Gardner, Web Editor
Jodi Leese Glusco, Web Editor

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