Man gets 11 years in Rantoul credit union holdup

Man gets 11 years in Rantoul credit union holdup

URBANA — A former Champaign man who admitted his role in the holdup of a Rantoul credit union in 2012 has been sentenced to 11 years in prison.

Darta Bishop, 26, whose last known address was in the 400 block of West Maple Street, was to have been tried by a Champaign County jury this week on two counts of aggravated robbery for holding up Community Plus Credit Union, at 526 E. Champaign Ave., on Sept. 18, 2012.

Instead, Bishop pleaded guilty on Friday to one count of aggravated robbery and was sentenced to 11 years with credit for almost 20 months already served in custody.

Judge Thomas Difanis accepted the plea agreement negotiated by Assistant State's Attorney Dan Clifton and Bishop's attorney, Leroy Cross of Chicago. The maximum Bishop could have received was 30 years in prison because of a prior conviction.

Laying out the facts for Difanis, Clifton said that a man wearing a disguise that included yellow glasses, a gray suit coat, and a long black wig entered the credit union about 10:40 a.m. that day, said he had a gun but didn't show it, and threatened to kill everyone unless he was given money.

Two tellers provided him with bundles of cash in which two GPS tracking devices were hidden.

After the robber fled, Rantoul police began receiving location information from the GPS devices. Using that information, Detective Rodney Sullivan followed the getaway car to Champaign until it stopped in the 1300 block of Clock Street.

Co-defendant Maurice Thomas, 29, the alleged driver, ran from the car and was caught nearby by Sullivan.

As Thomas ran, Bishop moved to the driver's seat and took off with Champaign police in pursuit.

Bishop crashed the car in the 1400 block of Winding Lane and ran but was caught nearby by Champaign police detective Pat Funkhouser.

In the front passenger seat area of the car, police found the disguise worn by the robber and the cash stolen from the credit union. No gun was recovered.

Clifton said Bishop had one prior conviction for armed robbery out of Wisconsin and was on parole for that at the time of his arrest.

The charges against Thomas remain unresolved. He is due back in court next week.

The robbery was one of almost a dozen holdups of financial institutions in Champaign County in 2012.

Clifton said police were never certain which of the men went in the credit union that day.

"It doesn't matter because it's clear they both planned it," Clifton said, explaining that each man is accountable for the actions of the other.

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