Grasonville couple sentenced in multi-state crime spree
BALTIMORE — A Grasonville couple was sentenced this past week for their roles in a multi-state crime spree. In two months, they stole or attempted to steal eight ATMS, stole four vehicles, burglarized a convenience store and robbed a bank, according to the Justice Department. First Sgt. Morris “Sonny” Jones of the Queen Anne’s County Sheriff’s Office called the pair “a modern-day Bonnie and Clyde.”
Matthew Dale Bush, 39, and Crystal French, also known as Crystal Lynn Bush, 34, pleaded guilty to the crimes in September.
U.S. District Judge Richard D. Bennett sentenced Bush to 110 months in prison, followed by three years of supervised release, for conspiring to commit bank larceny, interstate transportation of stolen goods, and interstate transportation of stolen vehicles, and for bank robbery and illegal possession of a firearm and ammunition.
At Bush’s sentencing on Dec. 11, Bennett noted Bush’s conduct was “alarmingly egregious” and that the highspeed chases “grossly endangered” the public and law enforcement, according to a statement from the Justice Department. Bennett noted, and Bush agreed, that one of the chases extended for over 40 miles from the Chesapeake Bay Bridge to Delaware and the other occurred in the heart of Baltimore.
On Dec. 12, Bennett sentenced French to 20 months in prison, followed by three years of supervised release, for conspiring to commit bank larceny, interstate transportation of stolen goods, and interstate transportation of stolen vehicles. Bennett also ordered Bush and French to pay restitution of $10,341.38.
The sentences were announced by United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Robert K. Hur; Acting Special Agent in Charge Cardell T. Morant of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations; Colonel William M. Pallozzi, Superintendent of the Maryland State Police; and Queen Anne’s County Sheriff Gary Hofmann.
According to their respective plea agreements, from September 2017 through October 23, 2017, Bush and French conspired to break into retail businesses in order to steal automated teller machines and the money contained inside. The couple admitted that they used stolen vehicles to travel to and from the scenes of the crimes.
In September and October
2017, the couple stole six ATMS that contained over
$38,900, and they attempted to steal two other ATMS. As part of the conspiracy, the couple traveled to, and stole from, businesses in Maryland, Delaware and Virginia.
They committed multiple burglaries on the Eastern Shore and also across the bridge, Jones said. Local burglaries took place in Stevensville, Chester and Cambridge.
Generally, Bush would enter the store wearing a mask, attach a chain or strap to the ATM and use a truck to pull it out of the store through the front glass window, Jones said. The couple then transported the ATM and its contents to their home in Grasonville, where they hid the proceeds.
Bush and French spent the proceeds of the crimes they committed on personal items, including heroin and other illegal narcotics, according to the Justice Department.
Bush and French married on October 14, 2017, during the crime spree. As detectives developed the pair as suspects, they knew Bush and French were using stolen vehicles and stolen tags, sometimes both, in their burglaries, Jones said. In fact, one of the things that linked them to Matthew Bush was a plate that pinged on a stolen vehicle as it was crossing the Bay Bridge, which lead to a chase into Delaware just hours before their wedding, Jones added.
Queen Anne’s County Sheriff’s Office Criminal Investigation Unit obtained a state search warrant for Bush and French’s residence. On October 19, 2017, just prior to the execution of the search warrant, deputies saw Bush and French leave the house in a green Mercedes. When Bush and French saw a marked Queen Anne’s County patrol vehicle, they sped away.
The Sheriff’s Criminal Investigation Unit was assisted in the investigation and search by the Maryland State Police Criminal Enforcement Division and the Delaware State Police, Jones said.
During the search, police recovered the following evidence: tow straps used to pull the ATM machines from the stores; sledgehammers used to break the glass at the burglaries; masks and clothing worn by the suspects in the surveillance videos at the burglaries; the license plate to one of the stolen pickup trucks, cut in numerous pieces; packaging for “walkietalkies” used by Bush and French during some of the ATM burglaries; and a van containing several damaged ATM machines. Police also found French’s cell phone, a loaded 12 gauge shotgun near the bed where Bush slept, and additional shotgun ammunition in the garage. Bush is prohibited from possessing a firearm due to previous felony convictions, including 2010 convictions for assault and burglary related to a number of Delaware ATM burglaries.
On October 22, 2017, Bush and French stole a pickup truck in White Marsh and drove to a gas station in Harford County. Bush entered the gas station and demanded money, but the clerk refused to give Bush the cash. Bush and French then drove to Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, where they left the truck stolen in White Marsh and stole another pickup truck. Bush and French then drove the second stolen pickup truck to a convenience store in Harford County. Bush and another person, both wearing masks and hats, broke into the convenience store and stole some 86 packs of cigarettes. Later that morning, Bush and French drove to a bank on Bel Air Road in Perry Hall. While French remained in the passenger seat, Bush entered the bank and displayed a note demanding money to the teller, who complied with Bush’s demands. Bush stole $4,820, fled the bank, got into the truck and drove away in the stolen truck, the Justice Department said.
Police officers spotted Bush and French leaving the bank and attempted a traffic stop.
Bush refused to stop. He drove away in a reckless manner, fled into Baltimore City, finally crashing into another vehicle. Bush then got out of the truck, helped French out of the passenger side, and the two ran away, followed by at least two police officers. Bush and French were caught and arrested. The cigarettes stolen from the convenience store were found in the stolen truck.
The case went federal because of the multiple jurisdictions and states involved, Jones said, adding that if prosecuted by individual jurisdictions, the cases would have tied up the courts for year.
Paul Budlow and Sandra Wilkinson of the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Baltimore prosecuted the case.
It is part of the Justice Department’s Project Safe Neighborhoods, a program bringing together all levels of law enforcement and the communities they serve to reduce violent crime and make neighborhoods safer for everyone.
Hur commended the HSI, the Maryland State Police, the Delaware State Police, the Queen Anne’s County Sheriff’s Office, the Harford County Sheriff’s Office, the Baltimore County Police Department, and the Loudon County, Virginia Sheriff’s Department for their work in the investigation. Hur thanked Budlow and Wilkinson for prosecuting the case.
A wedding photo of Crystal French and Matthew Dale Bush off his Facebook page from October 2017.