(Times Record (Fort Smith, AR) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) Jan. 30--A Dallas man was sentenced to 25 years in prison after pleading guilty Wednesday in Sebastian County Circuit Court to robbing a Fort Smith bank in July.
Thomas Henry Auldridge, 56, entered Arvest Bank, 3200 Rogers Ave., at around 7:24 a.m., on July 3 and handed three tellers plastic bags and each one of them a note, demanding money and no GPS device or dye packs, because he would check the bags before he left and he was armed, according to a police report.
Auldridge was arrested within hours of the robbery and pleaded not guilty to aggravated robbery on July 11, before entering a guilty plea Wednesday and being sentenced to 25 years in prison plus 15 years suspended.
He never produced a weapon, but one of the tellers told police Auldridge tapped his right hip like he might have a concealed weapon, according to the report.
After the tellers put approximately $10,000 in the bags, the suspect took them and left the bank, according to a police report.
With a description of the vehicle the man drove and his photo from a surveillance camera in the bank, Fort Smith police and FBI agents began checking casino parking lots for the vehicle.
Shortly into the search, a vehicle matching the suspect's vehicle description was seen backing into a parking space at the Travelodge Motel in Roland, across the street from the Cherokee Casino, according to a police report.
After determining the tag was stolen, Fort Smith police made contact with the motel clerk, showing her the surveillance photo from the bank, according to a police report.
The clerk confirmed she just rented a room to the man in the photo, and officers and FBI agents took Auldridge into custody without incident.
When asked if he knew why authorities were there, Auldridge told them, "I robbed a bank in Fort Smith," according to a police report.
Auldridge then signed a consent to search form for his vehicle and motel room.
A "large amount of cash" was discovered in Auldridge's motel room, as well as clothing that matched what the robber was wearing in the surveillance photo, according to a police report.
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