PNC Bank robber pleads guilty in federal court


A Columbus man accused of robbing Delaware’s downtown PNC Bank in August 2015 has pleaded guilty in federal court to bank robbery and using a firearm during a robbery.

Alonzo D. Groce, 19, of Columbus, changed his plea Thursday from “not guilty” to “guilty” Thursday afternoon in connection with a charge of bank robbery and a charge of using a firearm during the robbery of a financial institution. U.S. District Court Chief Judge Edmund A. Sargus Jr. accepted his guilty plea and ordered a pre-sentence investigation be completed on Groce.

A sentencing date has not yet been scheduled.

Groce, along with his co-defendant, Jonathan E. Leon II, 24, of New York, were indicted by a grand jury of the Southern District of Ohio on Oct. 22, 2015, on the robbery and use of firearms charges.

Both men pleaded not guilty to the charges at their arraignments in federal court. Both men are currently in federal custody.

Leon was originally scheduled for trial on Jan. 19 but on Dec. 23 his attorney asked for a continuance to allow Leon to discuss the case with prosecutors.

The trial has not been rescheduled.

At the arraignment for the men in Delaware County Common Pleas Court on Sept. 11, 2015, first assistant county prosecutor Kyle Rohrer told Delaware County Common Pleas Judge Everett Krueger that Leon went into the PNC Bank at 40 N. Sandusky St. on Aug. 24, 2015, and investigated it before leaving a few minutes later. Rohrer said Groce then entered the bank about 20 minutes later — about 11:30 a.m. — with a .25-caliber semi-automatic pistol, demanding money from a bank clerk. Rohrer said the clerk gave Groce money and then hit a silent alarm.

Groce left the bank and got into a waiting car driven by Leon and the men were pursued by police as they got onto Interstate 71 and headed south, toward Polaris. After a chase, the men ditched the car in a parking lot on South Old State Road.

Rohrer said the men fled on foot but Leon was located a few minutes later and taken into custody by authorities.

Groce was found by police a couple of hours later in a drainage ditch in possession of the money, including marked bills given to him by the bank teller, and the handgun used in the robbery. Groce reportedly confessed the crime to police when questioned.

Authorities said no one was harmed during the incident.

Groce Courtesy photos | Delaware County Jail

Leon Courtesy photos | Delaware County Jail

By Glenn Battishill

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Glenn Battishill can be reached at 740-413-0903 or on Twitter @BattishillDG.

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