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Clearwater man suspected in several Pinellas bank robberies

A Clearwater man arrested Saturday on a bank robbery charge is suspected of committing several other holdups since early March, officials say.

Anthony Leon Monroe, 30, of 1105 Blanche B. Littlejohn Trail was taken into custody about 3 a.m. in the parking lot of Just Chillin, a popular Largo hangout.

Monroe was being held Monday at the Pinellas County Jail in lieu of $15,000 bail.

Monroe is accused of robbing a Wachovia Bank at 2515 West Bay Drive in Belleair Bluffs on March 2. Officials said the suspect entered the bank at 10:21 a.m., handed a teller a note demanding cash and fled with an undisclosed amount of money.

Monroe was identified as a suspect through fingerprints, said Pinellas County Sheriff's Office spokeswoman Cecilia Barreda.

According to the Sheriff's Office, deputies had received a tip that Monroe might be at Just Chillin, and he was arrested on a charge of strong-arm robbery and habitual driving with a suspended or revoked license.

Monroe has not been charged in any of the other robberies. The investigation is ongoing, Barreda said.

Last month, sheriff's officials said the same person was believed to have committed three other robberies, all in Clearwater, during March and April. A man fitting a similar description also robbed the West Bay Drive Wachovia on May 8.

The man wore a fake beard in each of the robberies and brandished a semiautomatic handgun in three of them.

Monroe has an extensive criminal history beginning with a 1994 conviction of attempted second-degree murder. In that case, he was sentenced as a youthful offender to six years in Florida Department of Corrections custody, according to St. Petersburg Times archives.

Most recently, he was released from prison in March 2008 after serving 28 months for cocaine possession, according to the state Department of Corrections.

Times staff writer Kameel Stanley contributed to this report. Rita Farlow can be reached at farlow@sptimes.com or (727) 445-4157.

Clearwater man suspected in several Pinellas bank robberies 06/08/09 [Last modified: Tuesday, June 9, 2009 4:32pm]
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