Northern Virginia “Blonde Bandit” Goes to Prison for 11 Years

Posted on Aug 20, 2012

The young mother who came to be known as the “Blonde Bandit” spoke shortly before her sentencing, apologizing in a timid voice for “all the horrible things” she had done. She received a minimum of 11 years in prison for a series of bank robberies and carjackings. Considering that she could have been sentenced for up to 70 years, she got off pretty easy.

Stephanie Schwab, a 27-year-old woman who grew up in Manassas, admitted to a carjacking, two bank robberies, and an attempt to rob a third bank. Her admission was part of a plea deal with federal prosecutors in Virginia, in exchange for some of the charges being dropped.

Ms. Schwab was also a member of a group that moved more than 700 grams of heroin “bricks” from New York and distributed it in the D.C. area. Schwab was caught on November 30 after fleeing the scene of another attempted bank robbery in McLean. She left without any money when the teller pushed a silent alarm button.

Schwab was followed by a Fairfax County police officer to Montgomery County, Maryland, where she caused a car accident. Schwab swerved into oncoming traffic on the Capital Beltway near Old Georgetown Road, causing a three-car accident, and was caught as she fled from her vehicle, which she had carjacked from a woman in Baltimore County earlier that day.

Stephanie Schwab had been a member of the violent Mara Salvatrucha, or MS-13, gang. She was placed in the witness protection program after testifying against fellow gang members for killing a 17-year-old gang member who had become a government informant. She says she left the witness protection program because she missed her family, who live in the D.C. area.

Ms. Schwab blamed her crime spree on a heroin addiction and mounting financial problems.

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Gretchen L. Taylor
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