El Mirage bank teller behind robberies sentenced

Posted: Updated:
Joel Leon Thomas Jr. By Catherine Holland Joel Leon Thomas Jr. By Catherine Holland
By Catherine Holland By Catherine Holland

PHOENIX (AP) -- A former bank teller convicted for masterminding a series of bank robberies in suburbs west of Phoenix is going to federal prison.

The U.S. Attorney's Office in Arizona says 24-year-old Joel Leon Thomas Jr., of El Mirage, was sentenced Wednesday to 49 1/2 years.

A jury found Thomas guilty of eight charges, including three counts of conspiracy to commit bank robbery.

Thomas was a bank teller at three banks that were robbed between January and February 2012 in Peoria, Surprise and Sun City.

Prosecutors say evidence showed that Thomas gave inside information to five others who have since pleaded guilty in the conspiracy.

They say police seized $150,000 in stolen bank money, diagrams of the banks and other evidence from Thomas' home and car.

RELATED:

Ex-teller convicted in 3 Phoenix-area bank heists