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Fourth Spring Hill credit union robbery suspect caught in freezer

SPRING HILL — The last of four suspects sought in the Christmas Eve robbery of a credit union office here was captured over the weekend while hiding in a freezer, police said on Monday.

Jerome Simmons, 21, of Fort Lauderdale, was arrested on a charge of armed robbery, a first-degree felony, a report said.

Hernando Sheriff's Office spokeswoman Sgt. Donna Black confirmed the arrest and said that deputies found Simmons hiding in the appliance, but she could provide no other details.

Simmons, who was recently released from the Baker County Correctional Center, was among the group arrested in the robbery of the Tampa Postal Credit Union on Deltona Boulevard on Dec. 24.

The armed thieves, wearing black ski masks, stole more than $88,000 from tellers before fleeing to Ocala, officials said.

One suspect dropped a cell phone at a teller's window during the robbery, according to a court document.

The phone was traced to Richard Harris, 21, of Hudson.

A report said Hernando detectives received a call on Dec. 29 from Richard Wright, Harris' stepfather, saying that Harris was involved in an armed robbery.

Wright said he was afraid that Harris would be killed or would kill someone else in another incident.

Harris had called Wright to say that he and the others were in Ocala. Wright went to the Travel Lodge in Ocala, the report said, and found Harris and the other suspects throwing away clothes in a Dumpster.

Harris and the others admitted they had robbed the credit union and offered Wright $1,000 to drive them in their Plymouth to Clearwater.

Wright refused, but later agreed to drive them to Clearwater in his own vehicle for $300.

On Dec. 30, Harris along with Jerald Davis, 22, and Tommy Lee Benton, 49, both of Fort Lauderdale, were arrested on charges of armed robbery and booked into the Broward County Jail.

That same day, a report said, Simmons met with his probation officer.

A warrant was issued later for Simmons' arrest.

Greg Hamilton can be reached at hamilton@sptimes.com or at 352-754-6113.

Fourth Spring Hill credit union robbery suspect caught in freezer 01/05/09 [Last modified: Thursday, January 8, 2009 10:39pm]
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