Houston grocery store bank robber gets more than 5 years in prison

Kyle Lee Puglisi accused of robbing 5 banks inside grocery stores

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HOUSTON - A man arrested for robbing five banks in Houston grocery stores received the maximum sentence to federal prison on Monday, the Department of Justice announced.

Kyle Lee Puglisi, also known as the "Bearded Bandit," will spend 63 months behind bars, U.S. District Judge Vanessa Gilmore ruled.

Puglisi, 27, was charged with multiple counts of bank robbery in connection with the robberies of five banks inside grocery stores between July and September of 2012.

Testimony about pressures in Puglisi's life at the time he was robbing banks was presented in a plea for leniency from the court. The court rejected the plea, saying his crimes involved five separate banks, not just the one to which he plead guilty on Dec. 10, 2012.

Puglisi has admitted to robbing the First Convenience Bank located inside a Kroger grocery store in north Houston on the morning of July 2.

FBI agents said Puglisi entered the grocery store and began shopping like a regular customer. He placed several grocery items from the shelves into a grocery cart before pushing the cart toward the bank.

Authorities said he approached the teller, pulled a revolver from the waistband of his pants and said, "Don't make it obvious." The teller handed over cash to Puglisi, the FBI said. Puglisi then left the grocery store in an unknown direction, leaving the groceries and cart near the teller counter.

Court documents obtained by Local 2 read that Puglisi ran away with a total of $7,636. However, surveillance cameras got a clear look at him.

Authorities said they were able to identify Puglisi as the person responsible for the robbery from evidence collected at the scene. According to investigators, before each robbery, Puglisi put a Band-Aid on the tip of each finger to keep his fingerprints off the carts or anything else. Turns out, that wasn't enough.

Authorities said they processed the cart from his first robbery. The FBI ran the DNA through its national database, which led them straight to Puglisi, a man with a criminal record.

Puglisi was apprehended on Sept. 19, shortly after committing another robbery of the First Community Credit Union in an HEB grocery store in Spring, authorities said.

According to investigators, a small amount of U.S. currency and a pellet gun were also seized at the time of Puglisi's arrest.

Puglisi will remain in custody pending transfer to a federal prison. He was also ordered to pay restitution and to serve a three-year term of supervised release following completion of the prison term.

This case was investigated by the FBI and was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Richard D. Hanes.

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