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Mechanicsburg man pleads guilty to Central Illinois robberies

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PEORIA — A Mechanicsburg man pleaded guilty Wednesday to charges stemming from a string of robberies last April across Central Illinois.

John W. Beck, 55, pleaded guilty in federal court to four counts of interference with commerce by robbery, one count of bank robbery, one count of armed bank robbery and one count of attempted escape.

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Court documents say Beck robbed six businesses within two weeks: Dollar General in Buffalo, April 8; Bank of Pontiac in Odell, April 9; Fast Stop Store in Odell, April 17; Village Pantry in Paxton, April 18; Subway in Danville, April 19; and Elmwood Bank in Elmwood, April 20.

Prosecutors said Beck used three stolen cars — one from a person in Mechanicsburg and two from Springfield. He also stole separate license plates and placed them on the stolen vehicles, authorities said.

U.S. Marshals arrested Beck in April and he was held in the Livingston County Jail.

In September, Beck tried to escape the jail, and he was charged about a month later with attempted escape.

A sentencing hearing is scheduled for May 25.

Beck faces up to 130 years in prison — a maximum of 20 years for five of the robbery charges, up to 25 years for the armed robbery charge, and up to five years for attempted escape.

Contact Kade Heather at 309-820-3256. Follow him on Twitter: @kadeheather


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