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Man pleads guilty to federal bank robbery charges

A Medford man captured through social media tips early last year admitted in U.S. District Court in Medford to taking more than $16,000 in three bank robberies.

Jeffrey Edward Ownby, 30, entered guilty pleas Thursday to federal weapons charges and three counts of armed bank robbery, according to documents filed in the court, admitting admitted he robbed three banks while armed between May 2014 and April 2015, owning a sawed-off shotgun and a Molotov cocktail.

In each robbery, Ownby admitted, he said "you know what this is" while brandishing a firearm, a court document shows.

Ownby admitted that on May 16, 2014, wearing a black beanie, gray bandanna, black jogging jacket, he entered what was then the Bank of the Cascades branch at 3100 Crater Lake Highway, pulled out a gun, swung the weapon around and ordered people to "get on the ground." He fled the bank with $5,878 in a camouflage bag.

On Dec. 22, Ownby admitted, he robbed what was then the Washington Federal Bank at 600 N. Biddle Road, wearing a fake beard, clear glasses and a camouflage head covering. During the robbery, he pointed a gun on bank tellers before fleeing with $7,969.

His last robbery was April 1, 2015, when, while wearing a hat and fake beard, he pointed a sawed-off 12-guage shotgun at tellers at the American West Bank at 3369 Crater Lake Highway. He left the bank with $2,375.

Ownby had no prior convictions when a Medford Special Weapons and Tactics team and plainclothes detectives surrounded his Spring Street house one day later, following tips gathered through surveillance footage posted on Medford Police Department's then recently created Facebook page.

"He was surprised," Deputy Chief Brett Johnson said after Ownby's capture.

At Ownby's house at 2306 Spring St., police found clothing worn during the robberies and a Molotov cocktail. Inside his black panel van investigators found the Rossi sawed-off shotgun used in the most recent robbery. Investigators found the Smith & Wesson handgun used in the crimes at a pawn shop.

He could face about 16½ years in federal prison, court documents show. A document filed by federal public defender Brian Butler suggested a sentence of 78 months for the crimes plus a 120-month mandatory minimum sentence for using, carrying and brandishing a firearm.

Ownby pleaded guilty to felony charges including three counts of armed bank robbery, a count of unlawful possession of a weapon made from a shotgun, a count of unlawful possession of a destructive device and using, carrying and brandishing a firearm in connection with a violent crime.

Reach reporter Nick Morgan at 541-776-4471 or nmorgan@mailtribune.com. Follow him on Twitter at @MTCrimeBeat.

Ownby