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Jellico bank robbed; alleged thief in custody

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By Charlotte Underwood

A fake gun got a Williamsburg man some real money on Tuesday, when he robbed the First Volunteer Bank of Jellico.

 It appeared to be a normal Tuesday evening, but upon closer inspection, all was not well in the small mountain town.  The Federal Bureau of Investigation  (FBI) agents milling around town hall attested to that.  

Around 2:55p.m on Tuesday evening, a thin man dressed in blue jeans, with a bandana across his face robbed the First Volunteer Bank.  He was wearing a reddish brown wig, dark sunglasses and a ball cap, according to Jellico Police Captain Jeff Partin.  The alleged robber walked into the bank, produced a weapon and demanded the money, according to Partin. Even though the man appeared armed, no one was injured in the robbery.  

After receiving the money, the robber fled on foot, Partin said.

“Eight- thousand- five hundred- eleven dollars in bait money was taken and around $1,200 has already been recovered,” said Jellico Police Officer J.J. Hatmaker, who helped work the case along with other Jellico officers.  However, the FBI headed up the investigation, according to Partin.

“They (FBI) interviewed all bank employees and several other individuals,” Partin said.

Around 9. p.m., Tuesday night Billy Joe Blankenship, 31, of Williamsburg, was taken into custody, according to a FBI news release.  

Blankenship was arrested in Williamsburg without incident by members of the Knoxville FBI Safe Streets Task Force, the Jellico Police Department and the Williamsburg Police Department, according to the FBI press release.

Blankenship allegedly used a plastic air soft gun painted black to look like a real gun in order to rob the bank, according to Hatmaker.

Though Blankenship allegedly reported to law officers where the remainder of the money was hidden, it has not yet been recovered.

 Blankenship is facing charges aggravated robbery of a bank and theft $1,000 to $10,000.  He is currently being held at the Williamsburg Detention Center until he can be extradited to Campbell County, according to Hatmaker.