SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (edited news release from the U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Missouri) -

Tammy Dickinson, United States Attorney for the Western District of Missouri, announced today that a Springfield, Mo., man was sentenced in federal court today for the armed robberies of two Springfield banks and a drugstore in November 2008.

Mark Joseph Morris, 49, of Springfield, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Greg Kays to 72 years and six months in federal prison without parole. The court also ordered Morris to pay $5,632 in restitution. Morris was sentenced as a career criminal due to his prior felony convictions.

On March 21, 2013, Morris was found guilty of three counts of possessing a firearm during a crime of violence. Morris had earlier pleaded guilty (on Jan. 11, 2013) to committing the three robberies related to the firearm charges. Morris went to trial on the firearm charges, claiming the gun he used in the robberies was a BB gun. Video surveillance at the banks and drug store confirmed Morris’ use of a firearm. However, the firearm used by Morris to commit the robberies was never recovered.

 Morris admitted that he robbed Bank of America, 2633 W. College Rd., on Nov. 7, 2008. Evidence introduced during the trial indicated that Morris handed a note to a bank teller and then revealed a handgun concealed in his waistband. He tapped on the handgun with one hand and pointed to the cash drawer with the other. The teller removed a cash drawer and placed it on the counter. Morris took $3,208 from the drawer and ran out of the bank.

 Morris also admitted that he robbed the Walgreens Drug Store at 1930 W. Grand St. on Nov. 17, 2008.

 Morris also admitted that he robbed Bank of America, 710 W. Sunshine, on Nov. 21, 2008. Morris approached a bank teller and showed her a black pistol that was in his waistband. When the teller did not immediately respond, Morris removed the pistol from his waistband, pointed it at the teller and demanded, “Give me all your money.” The teller removed $8,957 from her teller drawer and placed it on the counter. Morris tucked the pistol back into his waistband, grabbed the cash from the counter, and ran out of the bank.

 This case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Abram McGull II and Patrick Carney. It was investigated by the Springfield, Mo., Police Department and the FBI.