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'I messed up,' Elba robbery suspect texted wife while hiding from police

By Howard B. Owens

It didn't take Dennis M. Abrams long on the morning of June 18 to figure out he apparently had made a huge mistake.

Within 30 minutes of leaving the M&T Bank in Elba with one of his buddies holding a bag full of more than $20,000 in cash allegedly taken at gunpoint, Abrams was lying in the brush along Lewiston Road sending a text message to his wife, Bianca.

"I messed up," was the simple message, according to Abrams' written confession.

"She called me because she did not know what I was talking about," he wrote. "I told her I could not talk because the police were close. I told her we had robbed a bank and that it had gone wrong. I then hung up because the police were close."

A few minutes later, Abrams was taken into custody.

His confession closes, "I would like to state that I made a mistake and that I am sorry for ever making this type of decision."

Abrams reportedly said he "messed up," but it wasn't like he wasn't warned.

According to the statement of one of his alleged accomplices, Demone Dillon, Dillon told Abrams and co-suspect Michael Wells that robbing a bank wasn't smart.

Dillon was the alleged look out who stood in the doorway of the bank while Abrams and Wells reportedly pulled off the stick up.

"I told them that it was a bad idea to rob a bank, but they decided to go in anyway," Dillon reportedly told investigators. "I followed them to the foyer area of the bank because I was told to do so."

According to Dillon's statement, Abrams called him about 10 o'clock the night before the robbery and said he had an idea to make some easy money.

In the Abrams' confession, Abrams said he and his friends were playing football the night before and started talking about how they needed more money.

"I said I know about this bank that I drive by when I go to Orleans Corrections to visit my cousin," Abrams wrote. "I said the bank was secluded, so we agreed to rob it."

The next morning, Abrams reportedly drove his black Chevy Blazer to pick up Dillon and Wells and then they stopped at Rite Aid to buy rubber gloves. Dillon said he knew the gloves were meant to avoid fingerprints, but he said he still didn't know the plan was to rob a bank.

It wasn't until they arrived at the bank, he indicates, that he learned of the plan. While sitting in the bank waiting for drive-up customers to leave, Dillon said, "I think this is a bad idea."

Inside the bank, the statement of teller Patti Hackett paints a terrifying picture. She said two men rushed into the bank while she was on a conference call with other M&T employees and the men started yelling, and she heard another teller scream "don't hurt me."

She writes, "The guy who grabbed me yanked me out of my chair and threw me to the ground." The men were yelling "get on the floor. We're not going to hurt you."

Hackett told investigators that the same man who threw her to the ground pointed a gun at her head.

In his confession, Abrams said he brought his Walthers P22 into the bank. He said it can hold 22 rounds, but he thinks it had only nine rounds in it at the time of the robbery, and that he waived it in the air with the safety on.

After leaving the bank, Abrams said he drove his Blazer at the speed limit until a state trooper spotted the vehicle and turned on his lights. Abrams said he stepped on the gas believing he could out run the trooper's Tahoe.

By that time, either Dillon or Wells had reportedly opened the money bag only to have an apparently pepper-spray-laced dye pack explode. Dillon said within a half mile of the bank, he threw the bag out the back window.

Abrams said that both Dillon and Wells were screaming for him to let them out of the car and he stopped at the first intersection he came to and the two men jumped from the Blazer and ran.

Dillon said he first went to a nearby house and lied down on the porch, but he quickly got up and started running. He removed his clothes because they had become wet and heavy, he said in the confession.

Dillon never directly explains why he agreed to go along with Abrams and Wells on what he admits in his statements clearly seemed to be a plan for some sort of criminal activity.

But the need for cash seems to be a factor. 

"The reason I did this is because I'm in serious need of money," Dillon told investigators. "I have a 6-month-old baby and also two 5-year-old kids."

Abrams, who admits in his signed confession to coming up with the plan, owning and carrying the gun, and driving his own vehicle to and from the bank, is about to become a father. In his confession, he said his wife Bianca is seven months pregnant. In his Genesee County Justice interview, he also says he is a foster father, and while being employed with the same company for more than five years, his gross earnings were $700 a week.

The third suspect, Michael Wells, is scheduled to be arraigned Monday at 10:30 a.m.

Yesterday, Judge Robert Noonan ordered Abrams and Dillon held on $250,000 cash bail and $500,000 bond each.

Pictured above, from the top, are Abrams, Dillon and Wells.

Gary Spencer

Nearly all defendants plead not-guilty in criminal cases (especially allegations of this magnitude), it is simply a procedural issue. I would assume there is photographic evidence from bank cameras and signed confessions, this/these case(s) should be quite easy to prosecute, more than likely plea bargains will be offered very soon and nothing will go to trial Of course I could be wrong, but usually that is how things go.

Jul 2, 2009, 1:08pm Permalink
Howard B. Owens

Routine at this stage is to plead not guilty, and I've been told that most judges wouldn't let a defendant plead guilty this early in the proceedings with charges of this magnitude.

That's why I made the story yesterday more about what was said in court rather than the plea. The plea was routine and hardly news.

Jul 2, 2009, 2:02pm Permalink
Tyler Hall

Lol, I love the ingenuity of these men. They decide to do it the night before. Don't plan it. Just buy some gloves and head on their way. Brilliant. Almost as smart and productive as the senators we have in this state. (I hope Abrams, Dillon and Wells don't write Howard and mark this as a personal attack)

Jul 2, 2009, 4:58pm Permalink
Susan Kennelly

"I said I know about this bank that I drive by when I go to Orleans Corrections to visit my cousin,"

I think it's funny that he passed the bank on the way to visit someone in prison.

Jul 2, 2009, 6:47pm Permalink
Bea McManis

Posted by Susan Kennelly on July 2, 2009 - 6:47pm
"I said I know about this bank that I drive by when I go to Orleans Corrections to visit my cousin,"

I think it's funny that he passed the bank on the way to visit someone in prison.

Guess the lesson was lost on him.

Jul 2, 2009, 7:12pm Permalink

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