A federal court judge sentenced wig-wearing, pellet-gun toting serial bank robber Kelvin Barton to 10 years and one month in prison in his string of crimes across the Lowcountry.
Barton, a 37-year-old North Charleston man, pleaded guilty in February to committing four bank robberies and attempting a fifth between July 2010 and June 2011. As part of his sentence, he must pay more than $15,000 in restitution.
Barton admitted to robbing a National Bank of South Carolina branch office in Summerville on July 3, 2010; a State Credit Union branch office in North Charleston on Sept. 2, 2010; a National Bank of South Carolina branch office in West Ashley on April 5; a SunTrust bank in North Charleston on May 27; and a First Federal Savings and Loan branch office in West Ashley on June 7.
He wore a wig or hood to cover his dreadlocks and netted $21,000 in four of the robberies. He came up short in a fifth case, when all bank employees hit the floor during the robbery, and no one could empty the till for him.
Some of the employees spoke in court or submitted letters to the judge, describing nightmares and anxiety when strangers come into their bank branches. Barton said he regretted his actions and that he only committed the robberies after first drinking heavily in the woods nearby his target bank.
Prosecutors dropped weapons charges against Barton after determining that he used an air pistol, not an actual firearm. His public defender found a receipt from a sporting goods store showing that someone bought the pellet gun on his account two days before the first robbery.
Authorities finally arrested Barton after a high-speed car chase in which he wrecked his car. Charleston County sheriff’s deputies recovered most of the $7,000 Barton took from the bank in that final holdup.
Barton had been on supervised release at the time of the robberies for a 2000 conviction for robbing a First National Bank of South Carolina branch in Summerville. He was released from prison in 2009.
Reach Allyson Bird at 937-5594 or Twitter.com/allysonjbird.