Man to be sentenced in armed bank robbery

A Marshalltown man who held a gun to a bank teller’s head during a 2012 bank robbery will be sentenced next week after entering a guilty plea on Friday.

Abel Ramirez, 23, faces a maximum sentence of 25 years after pleading guilty to first-degree robbery. Ramirez was previously sentenced to 14 years in prison on federal charges.

Ramirez and his accomplice Benjamin Crisantos, both wielding guns, robbed the Lennox Employees Credit Union, 1004 E. Main St., in November 2012.

Assistant Marshall County Attorney Paul Crawford said video evidence shows Ramirez had a gun to the back of a bank teller’s head as she put money into a bag for Crisantos.

Ramirez said little during the hearing, but did admit using a dangerous weapon during the robbery.

A half dozen victims attended the guilty plea hearing Friday, some appeared still visibly shaken by the robbery. Marshalltown Police Chief Mike Tupper and Capt. Mike Hanken also attended the hearing for the crime in which MPD Officer Vern Jefferson was shot pursuing the two men.

Crisantos shot Jefferson in the leg and Jefferson returned fire before both Crisantos and Ramirez were apprehended.

Ramirez was initially charged with attempted murder, first-degree theft, assault while participating in a felony, willful injury, extortion and assault causing injury to a peace officer for his role as an accomplice. Those charges were dropped as part of the plea agreement.

Crisantos’ state proceedings have been suspended because he is claiming to suffer from a mental disorder. A mental health evaluation has been ordered. Crisantos was sentenced to 15 years in prison after pleading guilty to federal charges.

A federal judge ordered Ramirez’s state and federal sentences to run concurrently. The sentencing for first degree robbery, a Class B felony, will require he serves at least 70 percent – 17.5 years – of his sentence before he’s eligible for parole. After serving the 14 years in federal prison Ramirez will be required to serve the remaining time on state charges.

District Court Judge Steven Oeth is expected to sentence Ramirez on Thursday at the Marshall County Courthouse.