Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Judge Lectures 'Bad Influence'; Valdosta Man Sentenced in Robbery Spree; Called the Mastermind

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Judge Lectures 'Bad Influence'; Valdosta Man Sentenced in Robbery Spree; Called the Mastermind

Article excerpt

Byline: TERESA STEPZINSKI

WAYCROSS - After recounting a Valdosta felon's series of lies, a federal judge sentenced him to eight years in prison Wednesday for a robbery spree that included a Brantley County bank and three other Southeast Georgia businesses.

Matthew Lowell Black, 38, was the last of three family members to be sentenced for the heist at Southeastern Bank in Hoboken on May 9, 2008, and robberies at a pizza place and two banks, all in Valdosta.

Black pleaded guilty in November to conspiring with his wife, Amanda Joyce Cosgrove, and his half-brother, Andrew Christopher Holt, to rob the businesses.

His sentencing was delayed, prosecutors said, because Black was helping the government with its prosecution of a man charged with the armed robbery of an Augusta-area credit union.

On Wednesday, Black told U.S. District Judge William T. Moore Jr. that he reluctantly participated in the Southeast Georgia robberies, which spanned a 22-day period in 2008.

Moore previously sentenced Cosgrove, 27, and Holt, 24, after they pleaded guilty in the case. Testifying separately, each told Moore that Black was the mastermind and had been a "bad influence" on them.

Black, however, denied being the leader, and told Moore that Cosgrove and Holt had instead influenced him.

"I was not the one who chose the banks to rob or decided how to do it. ... I tried to distance myself from them," Black testified.

Moore didn't mince words. He cited a series of lies Black has told about the robberies and his background, which includes prior convictions for burglary and theft.

"I don't know that I believe anything you say," Moore said. "For the longest time, you were not truthful about what happened and how it happened in this case. You clearly were not telling the truth, and tried to obstruct justice by getting the others to absolve you of responsibility. …

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