Rankin case moves to federal court

Surveillance camera image of May 9 robbery at PNC Bank in Owings.

Donald Edward Rankin, who stands accused of robbing a Calvert County bank earlier this spring, will have his case tried by federal authorities.

On Friday, with Rankin in the Calvert County Circuit courtroom, Judge Mark Chandlee declared the state’s case against the 64-year-old Lexington Park man to be nolle prosequi, or abandoned.

Rankin was indicted in U.S. District Court for Maryland on Sept. 23 for bank robbery with a dangerous weapon. According to the U.S. Code, Rankin could face 25 years in prison if convicted.

According to the U.S. District Court of Maryland criminal docket summary, the case will be prosecuted in Greenbelt by assistant U.S. attorneys William David Moomau, the lead attorney, and Gary Michael Morgan Jr. Prior to joining the U.S. Attorney’s Office this past July, Morgan was an assistant state’s attorney in Calvert County. The case has been assigned to Judge Theodore D. Chuang, court documents stated.

During his circuit court appearance Friday, Rankin was told by Chandlee that he would be returning to the county jail. He was expected to then be remanded to the custody of federal authorities. Rankin was represented at the hearing by Luke Woods of the public defender’s office.

In addition to charge of bank robbery with a dangerous weapon, the federal court’s grand jury notified Rankin last month it intends to “seek forfeiture,” that is to “seize property traceable to the commission of the offense.”

The armed robbery occurred May 9 around 10 a.m. at the Owings branch of PNC Bank. According to witness accounts, a man wearing a red plaid shirt, camouflage-style baseball hat with “USMC” printed on the front, an orange bandana tied around his mouth and nose, and reflective sunglasses entered the bank.

Employees told police the masked man was carrying a backpack and was armed with a silver automatic handgun.

Calvert County Sheriff’s Office Detective Josh Buck stated in court documents that the gunman demanded money upon entering the bank’s lobby.

A bank employee later told police “she was scared and attempted three times to put in the combination to the safe, however, was unsuccessful and as a result, was locked out of the safe.”

Buck stated the action angered the gunman, who threatened to kill the bank employee.

He also allegedly vowed to kill the employee if he heard police coming, according to court documents.

No injuries were reported as a result of the incident.

The gunman quickly fled the area in a vehicle, and a clear surveillance camera image of the gunman was posted on various local websites and shared on social media shortly after the incident.

Witness information on the getaway vehicle and other data led investigators to identify Rankin as a suspect.

He was apprehended nine days later at an Upper Marlboro hotel.

Twitter: @CalRecMARTY

Twitter: @CalRecMARTY