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Prosecutors seek 16 years for bank robber

A man who admitted to three Medford bank robberies six months apart is facing 16½ years in federal prison.

Prosecutors are seeking a 198-month sentence for Jeffrey Edward Ownby, 30, who admitted in September to a trio of armed robberies in Medford in 2014 and 2015 in which he took more than $16,000 and possessed weapons that including a sawed-off shotgun and a Molotov cocktail.

Ownby's case was among the first solved with the assistance of the Medford Police Department's Facebook page, which posted surveillance photos after the April 1, 2015, robbery of the American West Bank branch in the 3300 block of Crater Lake Highway.

He had no prior criminal history when a Medford SWAT team surrounded his Spring Street home the next day, acting on tips from Ownby's former co-workers who recognized the hat and jacket he wore while working at CSL Plasma Center in Medford. Court documents said he lost his job at the center in November 2014.

From the tips, police found photos of Ownby wearing the clothing used in the robberies on his wife's Facebook page, while also determining he drove an older model, black van used in the robbery.

Ownby told police he used the money to make "ends meet," saying he used the cash to buy more than $2,200 worth of prepaid Visa gift cards, then used the temporary bank cards to pay his water and sewer bill. He kept the remaining cash in a black box in his closet, documents said.

Police seized wigs, disguises and a sawed-off Rossi shotgun hidden in backpacks and duffel bags under the hood of Ownby's 1975 Chevrolet pickup. Also under the hood were two water bottles filled with gasoline connected to flares.

In his bedroom, police found a crumpled-up confession letter to his wife, as well as a pawn ticket for a handgun later confirmed to have been used in the May 2014 robbery.

A sentencing hearing is set for Jan. 31 in Eugene, court records showed.

Ownby pleaded guilty Sept. 22 in U.S. District Court in Medford to three counts of armed bank robbery, one count of using a firearm in connection with a violent crime, unlawful possession of a weapon made from a shotgun, and unlawful possession of a destructive device. Circuit Court records show Ownby had no prior criminal history.

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

Jeffrey Edward Ownby