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Courts

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2nd man charged in armed bank heist

Print on cellphone traced to felon, 22

Stephens

– Another Fort Wayne man is in federal custody in connection with the February robbery of a PNC bank branch, which occurred about eight weeks after he was released from prison.

Deyante “Pooter” Stephens, 22, was arrested Wednesday by the FBI and charged in a criminal complaint with the armed robbery of the PNC branch on Coventry Lane.

Christopher Seals, 22, was arrested last week on charges related to that robbery, as well as the interrupted robbery of a Three Rivers Federal Credit Union branch on March 13. This week, a three-count federal indictment was unsealed, charging Seals with armed bank robbery, being a felon in possession of a firearm and using a firearm during a crime of violence.

According to federal court documents, three men entered the PNC bank just after 9 a.m., all armed with handguns. They detained bank employees and took money from a cash drawer as well as the vault.

But one of the men left a gun behind in the bank, dropping a .38-caliber revolver on the floor at the teller station closest to the vault. Fort Wayne police collected DNA from the gun, finding it on unspent cartridges inside the gun, according to court documents.

The DNA was traced to Seals, who was released on parole in November 2011 after an Allen Superior Court conviction in 2009 for attempted robbery and possession of a handgun without a license.

A cellphone taken from the bank, found later using data provided by the service provider, had a fingerprint on it that tied it to Stephens, court records said.

Stephens was released from the Indiana Department of Correction in December after serving prison sentences for reckless homicide, resisting law enforcement and driving while suspended.

Stephens killed Christopher Ty-Ron Caldwell, 19, in January 2010 inside Stephens’ mother’s home on Congress Avenue on Jan. 12. According to court documents, at around 3:15 a.m., Stephens went into the bedroom to speak with Caldwell and another person. Stephens opened the closet, saw the gun and picked it up. He turned toward Caldwell and fired, striking him in the chest.

He later pleaded guilty to reckless homicide.

One day after his arrest for Caldwell’s shooting, and while out on bond, Stephens led police on a high-speed chase.

Also mentioned in court documents, but not charged, is Charles Seals. He is Christopher Seals’ brother and, according to court documents, purchased guns with his brother and other men.

Court documents allege that Charles Seals recruited Stephens to rob the bank and was later seen in a group of people with a backpack full of money. Charles Seals told a person in that gathering that he “robbed the PNC bank,” according to court documents.

The investigation into the robberies was conducted by the FBI Fort Wayne Safe Streets Task Force and the FBI Northeast Indiana Federal Bank Robbery Task Force. Both task forces are made up of FBI agents and officers from the Indiana State Police, Allen County Police Department and Fort Wayne Police Department.

The federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives also participates in the Northeast Indiana Federal Bank Robbery Task Force, according to a statement from the FBI.

rgreen@jg.net

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