A bank robbery suspect arrested by Amherst police a year ago after a seven-mile chase that ended in a three-car crash on Buffalo’s East Side was convicted Tuesday of second-degree robbery, grand larceny and reckless endangerment.
Mark Daniels, 48, of Cheektowaga was found guilty in a bench trial before Erie County Judge Michael L. D’Amico.
Prosecutor Brian P. McNamara said Daniels jumped over a counter and took money from the cashier’s drawer at Evans National Bank at 3388 Sheridan Drive near Bailey Avenue in Amherst at 5:36 p.m., on Dec. 16, 2011.
Daniels took about $4,340 and then ran to his car.
But the stacks of money stolen from the bank contained a GPS tracking device that allowed police to spot and pursue him within blocks of the bank, McNamara said.
Police tried to stop him at Bailey Avenue and Eggert Road. Daniels then proceeded into Buffalo with Amherst and University at Buffalo police cars in pursuit.
Police said Daniels apparently was trying to change his clothes in an effort to elude capture when he rammed two other cars at Jefferson Avenue and Best Street. He got out of the car but was quickly apprehended by Amherst police with the other police officers assisting.
The police found the money in the car.
“There is no doubt that this defendant is guilty,” McNamara told D’Amico.
Defense lawyer Daniel P. Grasso said the prosecution lacked evidence linking Daniels to the crime scene, and he also pointed out that the robber did not display a weapon nor hand the teller a threatening note.
Although Daniels, a seven-time prior felon, did not display a weapon when he confronted the bank teller, force was implied, McNamara said.
“From the moment he walked into that bank, he had one intent,” McNamara said.
The teller died from an unrelated cause before the trial started, but she testified at an earlier hearing.
When asked at that hearing if she felt threatened by Daniels, she replied, “definitely,” McNamara said.
Daniels and the drivers of the two vehicles he rammed at the intersection were taken to area hospitals and treated for injuries. One of the victims still suffers from an injury and is not working, McNamara said.
Daniels faced a higher robbery charge than he would have otherwise because of the injuries he inflicted on the other drivers as he sought to elude the police.
He faces a prison sentence of up to 15 years when sentenced by D’Amico. Daniels backed out of a plea deal last summer that would have put him in prison for about half of the time he now faces.