Southern Maryland Police Beat: The Story of The Bad Luck Bandit

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St. Mary’s Deputy Keith Fretwell with the Bad Luck Bandit hogtied on the floor as St. Mary’s Deputy Diane Thompson held his feet.  ST. MARY’S TODAY photo

The Story of The Bad Luck Bandit

Officers Nabbed Crook in Process of Robbing Spring Ridge Store; 20-Year Career Included Rash of Wawa Holdups and a Bank Job With Inside Help


By Ken Rossignol


SPRING RIDGE, MD. —  A man lurking in the shadows approached the two clerks locking the front door of the E-Z Stop II on Rt 235 in Spring Ridge late on Wednesday, August 21, 1991 and forced them at gunpoint to re-enter the store. The armed robber then made them remove the cash from the registers and ordered them to retire to the walk-in refrigerator.  While the clerks were complying with the robber, the silent holdup alarm was activated.

Cpl. Tim Cameron, Deputy Keith Fretwell, and roadside DUI test. ST. MARY’S TODAY photo


Three Police cars responded to the scene. Maryland State Police Trooper Craig Tyer was the first to arrive, finding two cars still parked on the side of the building.  Checks were run on the cars in the event one of them was the getaway car. 

Two St. Mary’s Deputies quietly pulled into the parking lot, Deputy Diane Thompson covered the rear of the store while Deputy Keith Fretwell went to the front door.  A set of keys was seen still in the front door.  Peering into the still lighted store the officers could see a man inside.   Trooper Tyer and Deputy Fretwell entered the store and ordered the man to raise his hands.  The man was slow to respond and was told again to raise his hands to the ceiling.

      The man complied and was quickly handcuffed by the officers.  The Robber was identified as Cornelius Leroy Chase, 30, of Liberty Street, Lexington Park.

As the officers began to collect information from the victims and process the crime scene, The Bad Luck Bandit began to holler and scream about his rights

       As the officers began to collect information from the victims and process the crime scene, the Robber began to holler and scream about his rights.  His rights were read to him loud and clear by Deputy Fretwell.  Chase then acknowledged his understanding of his rights.


Chase then began accusing Trooper Tyer of ‘police brutality’, saying that the trooper had placed his foot on him as he lay on the floor. 

The prisoner and Officer were in clear view of four other persons and never once was the man touched other than to handcuff him.

When asked what he was doing in the store Chase exclaimed, ” I just came for a little money “.

      When asked what he was doing in the store Chase exclaimed, ” I just came for a little money “.

      Chase’s get-away car was parked across the highway from the store in the Spring Ridge School parking lot.


Belleavoine and Fretwell at property destruction call. ST. MARY’S TODAY photo.

Maryland State Police Detective Charles Salvas arrived at the scene with the case essentially closed.  Trooper Tyer took the “Bad Luck Bandit ” to the State Police Barrack for processing.    This arrest made the second time in a week that an armed robber was captured by road patrol officers in St. Mary’s County.  Officers Tyer, Fretwell, and Thompson were justifiably proud of this arrest and were warmly thanked by the clerks and owner of the store. 

Earlier in the week Deputy Ted Belleavoine captured Mark Anthony Herbert, the “Black Bandit”, after the robbery of the Pizza Hut Delivery in California.

      The “Bad Luck Bandit” yelled at off-duty Deputy Oathar Todd, who had also arrived at the scene, ” See ya Shorty “.

      Chase wasn’t going to see anyone for a long while unless they are visiting him at the State  Penitentiary.


Deputy States Attorney Richard Fritz with a shotgun in a drug raid in Lexington Estates on Great Mills Road. ST. MARY’S TODAY photo

Chase entered a guilty plea in a plea deal with St. Mary’s States Attorney Walter B. Dorsey on March 31, 1992.  Court records show the disposition of the case wasn’t until May 1, 2000, with Richard Fritz listed as the States Attorney. Chase was sentenced to five years in prison with credit given for 1,262 days in jail. Related charges of assault and armed robbery were dropped as part of the deal with the public defender, Michael P. Kane, provided free of charge, courtesy of the taxpayers.

Chase was charged with armed robbery in Calvert County, Md., and on July 28, 2006, he entered into a plea deal with the Calvert County States Attorney. THE DEAL: Chase was sentenced to 15 years in prison with all of the related charges dropped by the prosecutor with the case reflecting he was sentenced in St. Mary’s Circuit Court cases as well.

Always sought for child support in St. Mary’s County, this rooster while roosting in the Maryland prison in Savage, Md., picked up various assault charges on guards.  On Sept. 28, 2005, he entered a guilty plea to second-degree assault and added sixty days to whatever jail time he was, at that time, enjoying.

Wawa robbery Great Mills Road. The crime in Lexington Park and Great Mills led Wawa to close this location. The new operator continued to see the hardened criminal class of Lexington Park steal him blind and he gave up the location in 2019. ST. MARY’S TODAY photo


Cornelius Leroy Chase the Wawa Wobber, got his life sentence reduced in 2015.

They just couldn’t keep him in jail forever, at least not then.

Chase apparently needed a little money another time as on Dec. 14, 2005, a St. Mary’s County Circuit Court Grand Jury indicted him on charges of armed robbery of several Wawa markets, given his longtime predisposal to robbing convenience stores.

 On March 7, 2006, Chase, represented by noted public defender William F. Renahan, Chase got a plea deal from St. Mary’s States Attorney Richard Fritz. THE DEAL:  Chase entered a guilty plea to robbery in Circuit Court of St. Mary’s and was sent to a flat ten years in prison.

Charges were brought against Chase once more for an armed robbery which took place on Aug. 21, 2004. In a trial in St. Mary’s Circuit Court on Aug. 23, 2010, Chase was sentenced to 25 years in the big house and court records state that in bold print that he is not eligible for parole with the net years he is ordered to serve ringing the bell at 75 big ones. He was also found guilty of the use of a handgun in the commission of a felony and false imprisonment. An attempt by his attorney to spring him in 2015 was unsuccessful as can be seen by both court records as well as his present place of residence.

Chase had been busy in the commercial robbery trade and had moved up to robbing banks.

Cornelious Leroy Chase is currently incarcerated in the Maryland prison at Cumberland as of Aug. 7, 2020.

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In 2004 he and his nephew robbed the Cedar Point Credit Union in Leonardtown. A clerk at the bank, Martha Thompson, tipped off Chase to information from the inside that would assist in boosting the bank.  Chase appeared at the bank as it opened in the morning and at gunpoint, directed that the three employees furnish him with the loot. Chase and his helper managed to gather up $150,000 in cash and high tail it across a cornfield behind the bank. Bad luck continued to trail the Bandit Chase as he lost $10,000 in a trail of haste in the cornfield, and that ain’t hay! The cops kept an eye on Chase at a house where he had been living in Mechanicsville.


Chase got caught when he rented a room at the Lafayette Inn, a small highway motel on Rt. 301 in Bel Alton, Md., and hid $48,000 in cash he got in the bank robbery. Now finally being the chips, Chase decided to buy two used cars. One of the cars he bought was from a Charles County Sheriff’s Officer who noticed that the downpayment of the $12,000 in cash he was paid happened to be in sequential bills of fifty dollar denominations. Bad luck, combined with immense stupidity and a dedication to crime, once more ripped apart his plans for life on easy street with other people’s money.

Thompson got ten years in prison for her trouble and had a big part of her sentence suspended, but was sent back to prison for violating her probation. Judge Michael Stamm sat on Thompson’s case.

St. Mary’s Circuit Court Judge C Clarke Raley at the dedication of the Circuit Courthouse. ST. MARY’S TODAY photo

Chase was sentenced in 2010 to three life sentences, which hardly seems like enough and the Maryland Court of Appeals ordered the case sent back for a new sentence as the harsh sentence administered by Circuit Court Judge C. Clarke Raley was exceeded that agreed upon by the prosecutor and the defense attorney.  Judge Karen Abrams sat on the new sentencing hearing and sent Chase to the slammer for fifty years without the possibility of parole.

Maryland Corrections records show that as of Oct. 5, 2017, Chase is prisoner #33687 and held in the state prison in Cumberland, Md.

From start to finish in his career of armed robbery, Chase had a lot of bad luck and apparently never considered working for a living.

That is the story of the Bad Luck Bandit, as it is unlikely he will ever again walk into a store and hold up the clerks.

St. Mary’s Circuit Court Judge Karen Abrams. ST. MARY’S TODAY photo
  • From start to finish in his career of armed robbery, Chase had a lot of bad luck and apparently never considered working for a living.
  • Buzz's Marina says that Ken, Jen, Pete and Jen got these beautiful blues out on the Dream Maker with Capt. Mike on July 16, 2017

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