Man pleads guilty in ATM firm heist in St. Louis

Friday, January 21, 2011 | 8:36 p.m. CST

ST. LOUIS — A St. Louis County man pleaded guilty Friday to robbing an ATM servicing company, the first person convicted in the multi-million-dollar heist.

John Wesley Jones entered the guilty plea in U.S. District Court in St. Louis. He also pleaded guilty to firearms charges and escaping from the county jail where he was held. Jones, 36, of Florissant, faces sentencing May 12.

"Mr. Jones understood the evidence in the case is overwhelming and he's anxious to begin his sentence and move on to the next phase of his life," Jones' attorney, Joel Schwartz, said after the hearing.

FBI Special Agent Dennis L. Baker said he was pleased with the guilty plea and is confident the other men involved in the heist will be brought to justice.

"We have recovered most of the stolen money but are trying to locate the rest," Baker said.

The U.S. Attorney's office offered new details Friday about the high-profile Aug. 2 heist at ATM Solutions Inc.'s St. Louis office, one of the largest robberies ever in St. Louis.

Four people forced their way into the business and stole more than $5 million, the first time that figure has been publicly released. The robbers also took firearms from both employees and tied them up, then forced them to help place the money into an ATM Solutions van after deciding there was too much money to put in the car they drove in with, the U.S. Attorney's office said.

The stolen van was taken to a home. Some money was hidden in the attic there, some was taken to a storage locker.

The U.S. Attorney's office said that on Aug. 3, Jones put more than $1 million into his Dodge Charger. As he was leaving the driveway, he nearly struck an unmarked police car, then fled. Police gave chase, and Jones eventually crashed. That's when police found the massive amount of money inside the trunk, along with a loaded gun.

Jones was arrested and taken to the Lincoln County Jail. He escaped on Nov. 15 along with another inmate and was re-arrested several days later in Illinois.

U.S. Attorney Richard Callahan declined comment because the case remains under investigation.

Paul Scott, president of Cincinnati-based ATM Solutions, also declined comment.

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