Man involved in Le Mars robbery sentenced

Friday, November 29, 2019

LE MARS — A Sioux City man involved in the robbery of the Iowa State Bank in Le Mars in December 2018, has been sentenced to spend time in federal prison.

Phillip White, 33, from Sioux City, received the prison term after a June 13, guilty plea to one count of bank robbery, and one count of interference with commerce by robbery (for the robbery of a Sioux City cab driver).

The convictions in two separate robberies, after several convictions for violent state offenses, means White will serve 12 years in federal prison.

Sentencing on the two counts was Nov. 22 in Sioux City by United States District Court Chief Judge Leonard T. Strand. 

Evidence produced by the United States at the detention, change of plea, and sentencing hearings revealed that just two months after completing a sentence for second degree burglary, on Oct. 12, 2018, White robbed a taxi cab driver with a bb-gun.

On Dec. 12, 2018, while on bond for the taxi robbery, he robbed the Iowa State Bank in Le Mars by implying he had a gun by putting his hand in his pocket. He and an accessory, Karen Merrick, then led law enforcement on a chase that created a substantial risk of death or serious bodily injury to others. Merrick was parked across the street from the bank and the two drove away in a U-Haul box truck. The truck was eventually stopped in western Plymouth County near the intersection of County Roads K-18 and C-44 after stop sticks were used.

The robbery was reported at 2:25 p.m., by a call to authorities. It took roughly 25 minutes for the chase to come to a close, according to information provided by the Le Mars Police Department following the robbery.

According to court documents, White has a history of violence. He has committed numerous assaults and related offenses. He robbed two other cab drivers before his most recent offenses. In one of the earlier taxi cab robberies, White held a knife to the throat of his victim and demanded money. On the second occasion, he held a broken beer bottle to another victim’s throat and demanded money.  

White was sentenced to 144 months’ imprisonment. He was ordered to make $21,503.11 in restitution, with more than $16,000 to the Iowa State Bank and more than $5,000 to the U-Haul company. He must also serve a 3-year term of supervised release after the prison term. There is no parole in the federal system.

White is being held in the United States Marshal’s custody until he can be transported to a federal prison.

Merrick has pleaded guilty to being an accomplice of the bank robbery and will be sentenced at a later date.

The case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Iowa State Patrol, the Plymouth County Sheriff’s Office, and the Le Mars and Sioux City Police Departments. The case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Forde Fairchild.

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