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Central Illinois man pleads to guilty string of bank and store robberies

Yellow police tape that says "Police Line Do Not Cross." The text "WGLT Police and Fire" is laid on top of that photo.

A central Illinois man has pleaded guilty in federal court to robbing banks and stores across a five-county region, including in Peoria, Livingston, Ford, Vermillion, and Sangamon counties.

John Beck, 55 of Mechanicsburg in Sangamon County, has admitted to robbing the Elmwood Bank in Elmwood, the Village Pantry in Paxton, the Bank of Pontiac in Odell, Fast Stop in Odell, Subway in Danville, and Dollar General in Buffalo, Ill. during a spree in April of 2021.

Federal prosecutors said Beck could face 20-years in prison and a $250,000 fine for each of six charges in his guilty pleas, including armed bank robbery and other robberies, when he is sentenced in May. He also could face a five-year term for an attempted escape from the Livingston County Jail in Pontiac.

Beck was on supervised release from prison for a 2007 bank robbery when he went on the spree. Prosecutors said Beck also used at least two stolen vehicles and stolen license plates to disguise the vehicles during the rash of stickups.

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WGLT Senior Reporter Charlie Schlenker has spent more than three award-winning decades in radio. He lives in Normal with his family.
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