A Blairsville man pleaded guilty Friday in U.S. District Court in Gainesville to a string of bank robberies over 11 years that netted him more than $300,000.
Bruce Allen Hughes, 48, was known as the "Crown Royal Bandit" for the cloth bag from that brand of whiskey he used to collect money in his heists.
Hughes robbed 29 banks at gunpoint between May 1997 and February 2008, according to authorities. None were in Hall County, with the closest robbery being in Athens.
Hughes faces a mandatory minimum of 147 years in prison when he is sentenced at a later date by Judge Richard Story.
"Today’s guilty plea will lead to a life sentence for one of the most prolific armed bank robbers ever to plague the citizens of Georgia," U.S. Attorney David Nahmias said. "Never again will this violent criminal terrorize another teller or customer as he did over the last decade."
Hughes pleaded guilty to two counts of conspiracy to commit armed bank robbery, five counts of armed bank robbery, six counts of use of a firearm during the commission of a violent felony, and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon.
"The law enforcement resources expended on this investigation by the Atlanta FBI’s violent crimes squad were a necessary burden," said Gregory Jones, the FBI special agent in charge of the bureau’s Atlanta office. "The many bank employees and customers that bore the brunt emotionally of this defendant’s robberies can take some measure of satisfaction that he will now be off the streets and that the FBI has stayed the course in the pursuit of justice."