SANTA ANA — A former cheerleader who was seven months pregnant when she engineered the robbery of a Fullerton bank where she once worked was sentenced to 6 1/2 years in federal prison Thursday.
Elizabeth Julie Maddex, 19, of Rowland Heights sobbed as she begged U. S. District Judge Gary L. Taylor for leniency.
"I'm sorry for the hurt I inflicted," Maddex said, brushing away tears. "I have a child now. I know what it was like for those people in the bank who thought they would not go home to their families. I'm remorseful."
Under federal sentencing guidelines, Taylor could have ordered Maddex to serve up to 7 1/4 years in prison because he found that she clearly masterminded the robbery.
The judge deplored the violent manner in which Maddex, her husband and another accomplice took over the Bank of America branch at 1821 W. Orangethorpe Ave. on Feb. 24.
The three masked robbers stormed into the bank, waving guns in the air and screaming at tellers and customers to "get on the floor." They escaped with more than $15,000.
"People didn't know whether they were going to live or die," Taylor said.
Last month, Taylor sentenced one of the other robbers, 28-year-old Larry Thomas Stratton Jr. of Garden Grove, to 65 months in prison. Sentencing for Maddex's husband, Kiefer Maddex, is pending.
Like Stratton, Kiefer Maddex is expected to receive a lesser sentence than his wife's because she--not the men--was found to have planned the robbery.
Assistant U. S. Atty. James Spertus told Taylor on Thursday that Maddex, who was fired from the bank for stealing about $1,000 over several months, planned the robbery in the fall of 1996 shortly after she learned she was pregnant.
Before her husband and Stratton agreed, several friends from her Rowland High School class rejected her requests that they help her rob the bank, Spertus said.
The case received widespread attention because Maddex was seven months pregnant when the robbery was committed.
Detectives who secured her confession also seized from her home a detailed to-do list that read in part: "Clean tubs, sink, counter and toilets, get ski mask, get police scanner, find escape route, borrow [gun] from someone . . ."
In a lengthy plea to the judge, Maddex described how she and her husband lurched into adulthood unprepared, conceiving a child as teenagers without incomes to support the lifestyles they wanted. She said they decided to solve their money troubles by carrying out a bank robbery just like one they had seen in a violent movie.
In the days before the robbery, Kiefer Maddex and Stratton would wake up late in the night to watch bank-robbery movies and would debate "'if we should carry it out this way" or that, the woman said.
Maddex said that since his arrest, her husband is no longer interested in the welfare of their daughter, Vanessa, now 7 months. She and her husband are finalizing plans for a divorce, she told the judge.
Maddex said her parents, who have "stood with me all along the way," will raise her child while she serves her prison sentence.
The judge ordered Maddex to join with her husband and Stratton to repay $8,000 that authorities have not recovered from the robbery.