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11 years for 'blond bandit' in bank robberies

Thursday - 8/9/2012, 4:15pm  ET

ALEXANDRIA, Va. - A northern Virginia woman who became known as the "blond bandit" was sentenced Thursday to 11 years in prison for a string of bank robberies and carjackings last year.

Stephanie Schwab, 27, of Manassas pleaded guilty earlier this year to stealing $3,200 in a pair of November bank robberies, plus another attempted robbery. She also admitted stealing a car from relatives and carjacking two others. She was arrested Nov. 30 after leading police on a chase on the Capital Beltway and causing a three-vehicle crash on the Maryland side of the highway.

Schwab had been a member of the MS-13 street gang and for a period of time was in the Witness Protection Program after testifying in a high-profile murder trial.

Prosecutors sought a term of at least 10 years at Thursday's sentencing hearing, in line with federal sentencing guidelines.

U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia Neil MacBride said Schwab's "reckless crime spree was a risk to the public in many different communities. Her complete disregard for the law and public safety justifies the lengthy sentence."

Schwab's lawyer said that heroin addiction drove her crime spree. She pleaded guilty to a heroin trafficking charge as part of her plea deal.

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