This article was originally published on by Tin Hahn on January 17, 2019

Federal authorities charge that an Erie man disguised himself with a light blue hard hat and what appeared to be dreadlocks when he robbed a westside bank branch of cash twice within five weeks.

Ronald Lomax Jr., 30, of Erie, was charged in federal court in Erie on Thursday with bank robbery for each of the two robberies and possession of a firearm by an individual convicted of a crime punishable by imprisonment for a term exceeding one year in the second robbery. Lomax is a convicted sex offender, according to court records.

Lomax faces a maximum penalty of 50 years in prison and $750,000 in fines on the three charges, Assistant U.S. Attorney Christian Trabold said in court during Lomax’s initial appearance before U.S. Magistrate Judge Richard A. Lanzillo in U.S. District Court in Erie on Thursday afternoon.

Lanzillo scheduled Lomax’s preliminary hearing and detention hearing for Jan. 24 at 1:30 p.m.

Lomax admitted to robbing the Northwest Bank branch at 3407 Liberty St. on Nov. 21 and on Dec. 28 and said that he had last worked around Halloween and “needed money to pay bills and for living expenses,” according to the criminal complaint the FBI filed against Lomax in federal court shortly before 1:25 p.m. on Thursday.

The complaint said Lomax stole $5,000 in the first robbery and $6,100 in the second. The complaint provides no details as to why the FBI suspected Lomax, but the complaint said agents on Tuesday got a search warrant for Lomax’s residence in the 500 block of West 16th Street.

Erie Bureau of Police detectives initially worked the robbery investigation and were working jointly with federal authorities before the charges were filed on Thursday.

Federal search warrants were served on Lomax’s residence and on his vehicle on Thursday morning. During the search of Lomax’s Ford Taurus, a black Hi-Point pistol was found under the driver’s seat. Lomax admitted during questioning by the FBI that he used the pistol during the Dec. 28 robbery and he acknowledged that he should not be in possession of a firearm because he was on parole, according to the complaint.

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