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Florida man may be suspect in December bank robbery

A Florida man remains jailed in south Georgia as authorities try to figure out if he is connected to a local bank robbery.

Earlier this month, 46-year-old Tony A. Bell, of St. Augustine, Fla., was taken into custody on a charge of bank robbery just a couple of minutes after reportedly robbing the Ameris Bank, located at 1603 Highway 40 East in Kingsland, Ga., on Jan. 8.

Lt. Todd Tetterton of the Kingsland Police Department confirmed that Mr. Bell also is considered a suspect in at least two other bank robberies in Georgia.

A follow-up investigation conducted by Kingsland police officers and special agents with the Federal Bureau of Investigation examined evidence gathered at the scene of the Dec. 4, 2007, robberies of two banks near Augusta and Athens, Lt. Tetterton said in a press release. Based on this evidence, officers were led to believe that the same person who committed these offenses was Mr. Tony Bell.

While incarcerated at the Camden County Sheriff's Department main detention facility in Woodbine, Mr. Bell has been interviewed and reportedly confessed to both of those bank robberies, Lt. Tetterton said.

While the press release did not specify a location of the banks - and local, state and federal law enforcement authorities will not confirm a connection with Mr. Bell - police have previously said they thought the same man robbed a Regions Bank branch in Thomson and an Athens First Bank & Trust branch in Oconee County on Dec. 4.

Gary Nicholson, special agent in-charge of the Georgia Bureau of Investigation Region 7 office in Thomson, said he is familiar with Mr. Bell's arrest. However, there have been no charges levied against the suspect by the GBI in connection with the bank holdup in Thomson.

In most cases involving multiple crimes where federal authorities are involved, they become the lead agency in filing the charges, Agent Nicholson explained.

Agents from the FBI were involved in each of the bank robbery cases. Contacted at the Augusta FBI office, Special Agent Anthony Russo said, I am familiar with it (arrest of bank robbery suspect), but unfortunately, I can not discuss any details nor can I comment on the possibility of federal charges.

U.S. Attorney Edmund A. Booth said Tuesday that he was not in a position to make any statement regarding the matter at this time.

Web posted on Thursday, January 31, 2008

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