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GNB robber pleads guilty

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ROANOKE — Richard Donald Hawes’ fifth bank robbery worked out no better than the first four.

In August, he’d approached a teller at Grayson National Bank in Hillsville. Wearing overalls, gloves, sunglasses and a ball cap, and with a bandanna pulled up over his face, Hawes held out a plastic bag and said, “No dye packs, no dye packs,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Jake Jacobsen said.

But the teller didn’t listen.

Tuesday marked Hawes’ third trip to federal court for a bank robbery case. As he had the previous two times, the New Castle resident pleaded guilty.

Standing in U.S. District Court in Roanoke, Hawes, 50, faced the same judge and prosecutor he’d seen on his last time through, in 2002.

“I didn’t threaten nobody,” Hawes said to Senior U.S. District Court Judge James Turk. He’d carried only a bag, not a weapon, Hawes added.

“I just walked out of the bank after they put the money in,” Hawes said.

Hawes’ getaway was complicated, however, when the dye pack the teller put in his bag exploded outside the bank, showering Hawes and his truck — and the $9,605 he thought he’d gained — with red ink.

Witnesses watched him pick bills off the pavement, and then drive away, Jacobsen said.

Within days, the prosecutor said, Hawes made a partial truck payment using red-stained bills. He bought wheel rims with ink-covered money. Cash he paid at a grocery in Bassett also included the telltale mark.

The bank robbery had been widely discussed, and all three businesses called authorities to report receiving marked money.

Turk asked Hawes how long it took law enforcement to catch up with him.

“Six days,” Hawes replied.

Sentencing was set for April 8.