The Holiday man also is sentenced to six years' probation after pleading no contest.
By CARY DAVIS
© St. Petersburg Times, published April 18, 2001
NEW PORT RICHEY -- The man blamed for a string of bank robberies in Pasco and Pinellas counties earlier this year has been sentenced to prison after accepting responsibility for four of the holdups.
Darrin C. Dillon, 37, pleaded no contest to four counts of robbery Monday after Circuit Judge Craig C. Villanti offered him a six-year prison sentence. The judge also sentenced Dillon, of Holiday, to six years' probation to be served after his release from prison.
The plea was unexpected, coming at a routine arraignment less than a month after prosecutors filed formal charges against Dillon, who previously served time for bank robbery in Kentucky.
Dillon's public defender, Sara Sanchez, told Villanti that her client wanted to take responsibility for what he had done. She also said that after he was arrested, Dillon rode around with detectives to the various banks, describing how he had pulled off the robberies.
Villanti said he took into consideration Dillon's willingness to cooperate in pronouncing his sentence. Nevertheless, the judge still went above state sentencing guidelines, which called for just over five years in prison.
Dillon's sentence could get longer: Prosecutors in Pinellas said they are considering whether to charge him with the robberies of the AmSouth Bank at 40786 U.S. 19 in Tarpon Springs and the First Union Bank at 801 W Bay Drive in Largo.
Authorities launched a nationwide hunt for Dillon after seven area banks were robbed over a nine-day period in February. Authorities said Dillon walked into the banks, passed a note and ran away with bundles of cash.
Two days after the search began in earnest, police found Dillon in a St. Petersburg yard, lying in the sun.
In court Monday, Sanchez said Dillon committed the robberies to get money to buy drugs. Each robbery netted about $2,000, authorities said.
The four Pasco banks connected to Dillon's plea on Monday were: Bank of America, 2123 U.S. 19 in Holiday; SouthTrust Bank, 3535 U.S. 19 in Holiday; Republic Bank, 6600 Massachusetts Ave. in New Port Richey; and Union Planters Bank, 9431 U.S. 19 in Port Richey.
Authorities said Dillon was linked to the robbery of the SunTrust Bank at 1424 Seven Springs Blvd. in New Port Richey, but he has not been charged.
- Cary Davis covers courts in west Pasco County. He can be reached in west Pasco at 869-6236 or (800) 333-7505, ext. 6236. His e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.