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Nearly 6 years, 12 robberies later, ‘Church Lady Bandit’ convicted

Courtesy of the FBI

After a string of a dozen robberies over an almost-five-year period, Sylvete Gilbert, otherwise known as the “Church Lady Bandit” was found guilty of all 12 robberies in the Franklin County Common Pleas Court on Tuesday.

Gilbert, 47, began her spree in January 2006, robbing 11 banks and one motel before police apprehended her Dec. 23. Gilbert robbed several banks throughout Central Ohio, including the U.S. Bank branch located in the Ohio Union, in which she passed a teller a note written on a piece of cardboard that demanded money and indicated she had a gun Oct. 20.

Police arrested Gilbert, who picked up the “Church Lady Bandit” moniker for her nice clothing, following her robbery of a Fifth Third Bank on Nationwide Boulevard. Officials found her hiding in a nearby building after a dye pack exploded and prompted her to drop the stolen money and run.

Though authorities would not release the amount of money Gilbert had taken throughout her spree, the average amount stolen in bank robberies is typically less than $3,000, FBI Special Agent Harry Trombitas told The Lantern in December 2010.

Gilbert was indicted on 24 counts related to the robberies.

“We rarely see female bank robbers,” said Franklin County Prosecutor Ron O’Brien, according to a Jan. 6 report from The Columbus Dispatch. “If found guilty on all charges, Gilbert faces a maximum sentence exceeding 50 years.”

Gilbert is scheduled for sentencing at 9 a.m. on Jan. 17.

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