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Ward Jr. pleads guilty in New England bank robbery case

Johnner J. Ward Jr.

A man detained in connection with a New England bank robbery last fall has pleaded guilty.

Johnner J. Ward Jr. entered guilty pleas Monday in U.S. District Court in Bismarck on charges of bank robbery and use of a firearm during a crime of violence. Ward is being held at the Stutsman County Correction Center in Jamestown and is scheduled to be sentenced May 10.

"As is typical in criminal cases, we entered into negotiations with the prosecution and resolved it through a plea deal," said Ward's court-appointed attorney Paul Myerchin. "Essentially, Mr. Ward is going to do a substantial amount of time. After looking at the facts of the case, that's how we decided to resolve things."

Ward, 28, and Colt Schneider were accused of robbing the American Bank Center in New England in October. After a manhunt, Ward was arrested in Midland, Texas, while Schneider was eventually apprehended in Florida. Ward and Schneider -- whose case is in the pre-trial phase -- both originally entered not guilty pleas.

Myerchin said Ward was staying in the Rapid City, S.D., area at the time of the robbery. Two armed men wearing dark-colored ski masks entered the New England bank from a next door alleyway during the early morning hours of Oct. 18 before demanding money be placed in a laptop bag, according to the Hettinger County Sheriff's Office.

Bryan Horwath
A Wisconsin native, Horwath has been covering news in the Oil Patch of North Dakota since 2012. Horwath currently serves as the senior agriculture and political reporter for The Dickinson Press and, despite the team's tendency to always let him down, remains a diehard Minnesota Vikings fan.
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