Widener convicted of bank robbery Sparks man also guilty of conspiracy

December 20, 1990|By Kelly Gilbert | Kelly Gilbert,Evening Sun Staff

Freddie D. Widener, whose family terrorized northern Baltimore County with threats, assaults and burglaries in the 1970s, has been convicted of charges tied to the May 21 robbery of a Middle River credit union.

A jury in U.S. District Court in Baltimore deliberated only 1 1/2 hours at the end of the three-day trial before convicting Widener of conspiracy, bank robbery and an assault charge yesterday.

The FBI had arrested Widener, 34, about 10 days after the robbery. The arrest took place at his home, in the 15400 block of York Road in Sparks.

FBI Agent Glenn Gray testified that, when he told the defendant he was under arrest for bank robbery, Widener replied, "Which one?"

According to trial evidence, Widener robbed the Martin Employees Federal Credit Union of $4,243 last May after he and his getaway driver, Stephen L. Duncan, stole a 1974 Ford pickup by popping the ignition and hot-wiring the vehicle. They stole tools, a car seat and diapers from the truck.

Duncan, Widener's nephew, pleaded guilty before the trial to a bank-robbery count. He testified for the prosecution that the two determined a meeting point and that Widener drove the stolen pickup on a practice run before the holdup.

Widener wore a red ski mask with frayed eye holes, a green fatigue jacket and gloves during the robbery. FBI agents later found a horde of similar ski masks in the defendant's home.

After the robbery, Widener met Duncan about a mile from the credit union, abandoned the stolen pickup and the two men fled in Duncan's truck to an Essex motel, where they split the robbery loot, Duncan testified.

Stephen M. Schenning, Widener's court-appointed lawyer, called the defendant's brother, Bobby, and sister, Charlotte Floyd, as defense witnesses. They testified that Freddie Widener was elsewhere, with them, when the robbery occurred.

In addition to eliciting Duncan's testimony, prosecutor Joseph L. Evans presented phone records to the jury to show that Widener's girlfriend, Linda Greer, had made a long-distance phone call from the motel on the day of the robbery.

Two days later, Greer, who has a 2-year-old son named Freddie, got the car seat and diapers stolen from the pickup that had been used in the robbery, Evans said.

Documents filed in the case, which were not part of the courtroom evidence, say Freddie Widener is a suspect in the robbery of a Winchester, Va., bank last January. Details of that robbery, which involved a stolen Ford truck, closely resemble details of the May 21 robbery of the Martin Employees Federal Credit Union.

Widener, whose family was once known as "the First Family of Crime" in the county, faces a possible prison term of 21 to 27 years without parole if he is sentenced as a career criminal under federal guidelines in the bank robbery case.

His criminal record includes 19 arrests and at least six convictions in Maryland and Pennsylvania on such charges as drug possession, armed robbery, attempted murder, drug possession and carnal knowledge.

Judge Joseph C. Howard sent sentencing for March 4.

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