By Jack Molitor
The Herald Bulletin
---- — ANDERSON — A fourth alleged accomplice in an Oct. 28 bank robbery in Anderson has been arrested. And according to statements from co-defendants, he was the mastermind behind the heist.
Ashonta Kenya Jackson, 34, of Anderson was arrested late Tuesday night after police learned of his alleged connection to the armed robbery of the First Merchants Bank at 2825 Nichol Ave. on the morning of Oct. 28.
Nineteen-year-old Edwin Le'Anthony (Lee) Ricard of Anderson, who is one of the two men believed to have carried out the actual robbery, allegedly told police on Friday that Jackson had planned the crime. According to a probable cause affidavit of the incident, Ricard admitted to detectives that he and 23-year-old Gerald Lamont Reed of Anderson had both recently been committing crimes for Jackson. Latorya A. Rayford, 32, of Anderson, who was also arrested the night of the robbery, faces charges of false informing and assisting a criminal.
According to previous police reports, two masked men walked into the bank and fled with an undisclosed amount of cash after a bank employee was struck on the head with a gun. The teller was treated for minor injuries.
The bandits escaped in a white Ford Taurus that Reed had borrowed from a friend. Minutes after the robbery, a witness reported to police that two men had abandoned a Taurus with a matching description in the 2200 block of West 12th Street and left the area in a four-door black-and-blue Ford Taurus.
According to a release from APD after the robbery, numerous eyewitness accounts enabled detectives to identify both Reed and Ricard as the two suspects in the holdup. Most of the money stolen during the robbery is believed to have been recovered during the investigation.
Police weren't able to take a statement from Ricard until recently. He fled after the robbery and was found hiding out in a home in the 600 block of West Third Street in Mansfield, Ohio, by authorities there on Nov. 1. According to Anderson Police Department spokesman Detective Joel Sandefur, APD detectives had received information that Ricard had fled to Mansfield after the bank robbery, and they shared the details with the Mansfield Police Department.
Police tracked Reed to a home in the 2700 block of West 18th Street and arrested him. Police also found the black-and-blue Taurus, belonging to Rayford, in the driveway of the home. According to the affidavit, officers found an envelope with $300 in Rayford’s possession, and the glove compartment of her car contained about half the money taken from the bank, several thousand dollars.
At first, Rayford reportedly told detectives that she had the car all day. When police told her the car was used after the robbery, she said she had loaned the car to Reed for about an hour, and that he gave her the $300.
Rayford reportedly had worked at the branch and was fired several years ago after being questionably involved in a robbery that occurred while she worked there.
According to the affidavit, Ricard told detectives that Jackson picked up he and Reed the morning of the robbery and detailed a plan for the robbery. Jackson allegedly picked the two up at the car switch and drove them to a friend's house, where the money was divided.
On Monday, police questioned one of the eyewitnesses who identified Reed and Ricard as the robbers. The witness identified Jackson from a line-up as the driver of the second car.
Jackson faces a Class B felony charge of robbery. As of Wednesday night, he was still housed in Madison County Jail on $50,000 bond.
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