Gra­sonville cou­ple sen­tenced in multi-state crime spree

Record Observer - - NEWS - By AN­GELA PRICE bay­[email protected]­times.com

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.

FACE­BOOK PHOTO

A wed­ding photo of Crys­tal French and Matthew Dale Bush off his Face­book page from Oc­to­ber 2017.

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