Bank robber gets 10-year sentence

GREENFIELD — The Fortville man who called in a bomb threat to distract police while he robbed a nearby bank will be allowed to serve his prison time in a drug treatment program that offers him the chance to earn a lesser sentence.

Matthew Irwin, 31, will spend the next 10 years in an Indiana Department of Correction facility after admitting to calling in a bomb threat to Mt. Vernon High School so he could rob a bank in Fortville. Those years will be served in the Purposeful Incarceration program at Irwin’s request. The defendant told Hancock Circuit Judge Richard Culver last week that drug addiction drove him to commit crimes, and he hoped to seek treatment while locked up.

Culver granted Irwin’s request this week, despite prosecutors expressing concerns that the Purposeful Incarceration program, which helps prisoners overcome their addictions while earning good-behavior time, would amount to a lesser sentence.

But the good-behavior time earned is minimal. Culver said in court Wednesday if Irwin successfully completes the drug program, it would shorten his sentence by about six months.

Irwin accepted an agreement from prosecutors in November in which he pleaded guilty to robbery and admitted to being a habitual offender, which enhances a defendant’s sentence, records state.

Irwin told the judge drugs were to blame for his lengthy criminal history. While earning good-time in the Purposeful Incarceration program was a perk, his true purpose was to get clean and turn his life around, he said in court.

Police say Irwin and a friend called a bomb threat in to Mt. Vernon High School in March before holding up the Greenfield Banking Co. branch in Fortville the same afternoon. Investigators were immediately suspicious the two events were connected.

School officials received a phone call about bomb from a number with a Las Vegas area code around 11 a.m. March 13. Officers from several law enforcement agencies rushed to the school, and students were evacuated, police said.

A half-hour later, 911 dispatchers were told the Greenfield Banking Co., 111 W. Broadway St., had been robbed. Irwin admitted to entering the bank, wearing a fake beard and glasses, and handing a teller a note demanding money, police said.

Investigators were able to trace the call to the school to a Speedway gas station in Anderson, according to police reports.

Surveillance footage at the gas station showed Irwin’s accomplice, Britney Krieg, 20, of Anderson, using a payphone around the time the call was placed while Irwin purchased his disguise inside the gas station, investigators said.

Krieg was handed a five-year sentence last summer for her involvement with the robbery.

She pleaded guilty to felony charges of robbery and false reporting. She is serving three years in the Hancock County Jail and will be required to complete two years in Hancock County Community Corrections before her release.

Irwin pleaded guilty to two Level 5 felonies. Additional charges of robbery, intimidation and false informing were dropped as part of the plea deal, court records show.

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Caitlin VanOverberghe is a reporter at the Greenfield Daily Reporter. She can be reached at 317-477-3237 or cvanoverberghe@greenfieldreporter.com.