CLEVELAND - A former Niles man previously convicted of robbing a downtown Warren bank pleaded guilty Tuesday to robbing two other banks in Akron and Cleveland after he was released from prison on the first conviction.
Justin R. Bowman, 29, formerly of Ward Avenue, will be sentenced June 20 by U.S. Northern District Judge Dan A. Polster on two counts of unarmed bank robbery, charges that carry a 20-year prison sentence and a $250,000 fine on each count.
Bowman's partner in one of the robberies, Nicole R. Matanin of Warren, who has strong connections to a man recently charged with robbing a Warren bank, will be sentenced May 3.
Bowman and Matanin pleaded guilty to the Oct. 31 robbery of the Key Bank, 548 Canton Road, Akron, stealing $1,103.
Matanin told investigators that Bowman told her he had robbed a Cleveland bank, according to FBI affidavits. That led investigators to charge Bowman with robbing the U.S. Bank, 2132 Brookpark Road, Cleveland, in which he walked into the bank, handed the teller a note stating that he had a gun and wanted money. He also pleaded guilty to that robbery, in which he stole $2,875.
Plea agreements filed in federal court said because he pleaded guilty, Bowman will likely be sentenced to between three and eight years in prison on each county depending on the presentence report that will examine his criminal history.
Justin R. Bowman, 29, Akron, formerly of Niles, two counts unarmed bank robbery, faces up to 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine on each count
Nicole R. Matanin, 29, of Warren, one count unarmed bank robbery, 2 1/2 to 6 1/2 years, time to be reduced in exchange for assistance in two other prosecutions
Matanin could face 2 1/2 to 6 1/2 years in prison, but prosecutors indicated in the plea agreement they would recommend reduced time for substantial assisting investigators.
The plea agreement also stipulates prosecutors could ask for up to a year reduction in her sentence up to one year after sentencing if she "substantially assists the United States or state authorities in the investigation or prosecution of another person."
Matanin was the one-time girlfriend of Joseph Queen, 23, of Scott Street N.E., Warren, who is accused of walking into the First Place Bank in Warren Plaza in January and stealing about $1,500. Part of the robber's getaway was on a bicycle, police said.
Queen has pleaded not guilty. Police said when he was arrested, he told them someone had forced him to rob the bank.
In Matanin's arrest, an FBI affidavit states that she broke down and cried, then admitted to Akron detectives she and Bowman robbed the Akron bank. She told agents that Bowman planned the robbery and convinced Matanin she would be safe because surveillance footage of her robbing the Akron bank would never be sent to the Warren area.
Investigators said Bowman dropped Matanin off in his silver Saturn at about 9:15 a.m. Matanin went into the bank wearing business attire, waited in line several minutes before handing the teller a handwritten note demanding money. The teller then handed over the $1,103 inside her drawer.
Bowman was previously convicted in 2009 of robbing the same First Place bank Matanin's ex-boyfriend robbed. Tribune Chronicle archives said Bowman went to the counter, handed the teller a note, said he was armed and ordered her to empty her drawer then fled.
He was sentenced to 18 months in prison.