ORANGE PARK – The South Carolina man suspected of robbing a Bank of America branch has a troubled history of robbing banks and had only been out of federal prison since early August.
Myron William Ernst, 60, reportedly fled the Orange Park area on Oct. 9 after the calm heist at 29 Blanding Blvd. and drove away in a Lexus that was believed to have a Florida Gators license plate. Ernst’s robbery marked the second robbery at the same branch this year, however, the robbery also proved Ernst was merely returning to the time-honored “scene of the crime.”
According to court records, Ernst first robbed the Bank of America at 29 Blanding Blvd. on June 30, 2008, according to an indictment filed in U.S. District Court in Jacksonville on August 12, 2009. He got away in 2008, with $2,000 from Bank of America.
Currently, along with the Clay County robbery, Ernst is also a suspect of a robbery of a Wells Fargo bank branch in Orlando that took place around 10:30 a.m. on Oct. 5. The Polk County Sheriff’s Office said Ernst is a suspect in a robbery there that took place Oct. 12 where he reportedly fled in driving a stolen gray Ford F-150.
Ernst, who was most recently living in North Charleston, S.C., began his probation on August 10, 2018 after getting out of federal prison. On Sept. 10, 2018, in U.S. District Court in South Carolina, Judge P. Michael Duffy sentenced Ernst to 11 years and 5 months followed by three years of supervised probation. Duffy also ordered Ernst pay $11,000 in restitution at the time of sentencing. Ernst pleaded guilty to six counts of bank robbery.
According to documents filed in South Carolina federal court on Sept. 26, 2018, Ernst’s probation officer went to his residence at an Inn Towne Suites short-stay motel where he lived and worked at Origin Point Brands, a lawn equipment manufacturing company in Summerville, S.C. The federal warrant shows authorities were alerted at 10:17 a.m. on Sept. 26 that Ernst had tampered with his probation tracking device.
Under terms of his probation, Ernst was only allowed to leave his residence between 4:30 a.m. and 7:30 p.m. “for the purposes of employment.” His supervised probation began Aug. 10, 2018 after getting out of federal prison.
“All attempts to contact the offender went unanswered,” states the federal warrant signed by LaSheika S. VanDyke, a U.S. probation officer. “A home visit was subsequently conducted on this same date. Front desk staff at Inn Town Suites provided the probation officer with the offender’s severed transmitter, which they located in the elevator.”
According to the federal warrant, VanDyke said Ernst’s supervisor confirmed Ernst walked off his job on Sept. 21 “and has been terminated.”
Calls to the Origin Point Brands were not returned by Clay Today deadline.
Reports described Ernst as being in shackles wearing a T-shirt emblazoned with the word “tequila” on the front and pants with gray jail stripes. Ernst stood before Judge Duffy and said the robberies were an act of desperation because he had nowhere to live after coming out of a previous prison sentence in Florida.
“I’m not justifying what I did. I just didn’t feel like I had a lot of options,” Ernst told the court.
In the 2010 robbing spree, authorities first indicted Ernst in the Northern District of U.S. District Court in Birmingham, Ala., but his case was then transferred to U.S. District Court in Charleston, S.C. for prosecution.
Evidence presented at the change of plea hearing established that on Aug. 27, 2008, Ernst robbed the Regions Bank on Savannah Highway in Charleston, S.C. Ernst was arrested the following day in Myrtle Beach, S.C, for possession of a stolen vehicle
In Charleston, Ernst walked to a Regions Bank on Aug. 27, 2008 at 9:36 a.m. and silently slipped a teller a note without using a firearm. Federal prosecutors said Ernst had also robbed banks in Huntsville, Montgomery and Mobile, Ala., and Panama City, Fla. In one of his robberies, according to the December 1, 2009 indictment in federal court in Alabama, Ernst stole $2,000 from a Regions Bank in Madison, Ala. on July 7, 2008.
When federal authorities moved to the prosecution phase of the case, prosecutors consolidated Ernst’s Alabama and Florida indictments to U.S. District Court in Charleston using what’s called Rule 20. Under U.S. Justice Department rules, Rule 20 is used, “when an indictment is pending against a person in another district,” and the defendant had stated they want to waive trial and plead guilty.