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Deputies charge man for local bank robberies

By Staff | Apr 29, 2009

DNA from a blue baseball cap is the evidence that led authorities to a convicted bank robber who has been linked to eight bank robberies since October, including two in Naples and one in Fort Myers.
Palm Beach County deputies arrested Mark Everett Sharp, 52, of West Palm Beach, on charges he held up a Cape Coral bank Monday. Sharp was booked Tuesday into the Palm Beach County Jail.
A federal affidavit signed Tuesday accuses Sharp, who often wore an Indiana Jones-style fedora, of holding up a PNC bank in North Naples Dec. 8, 2008, and Feb. 11; a Regions Bank in the Cape Oct. 6, 2008; a Royal Palm Bank in Fort Myers Oct. 28, 2008; a Valrico State Bank in Brandon March 13; and a BB&T Bank in Clearwater March 19.
Also arrested and charged was Bradley Groceman, 38, of West Palm Beach, the alleged getaway driver.
News reports from 1985 show that it was a retired FBI chief in West Palm Beach, a customer at City Federal Savings and Loan, who nabbed Sharp after a holdup in February that year. Sharp was convicted two years later.
The federal affidavit states that the bank robber usually stole a bank employee’s car and the baseball cap was found after the December holdup at PNC bank in North Naples. The employee said it was not hers and Collier County sheriff’s deputies sent it to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement for DNA testing. It pulled up a partial match to Sharp.
The affidavit states that after Sharp was identified, detectives checked records and it turned out Sharp had been linked to seven bank robberies in Miami during 1985, and he was convicted of bank robbery in March 1987.
Federal prison records show that Sharp was released from a federal penitentiary March 28, 2006.
On Monday in the Cape, a witness watched the robber hop into an SUV driven by another man and they sped off.
Meanwhile, Collier deputies contacted Palm Beach deputies to intercept Sharp for failing to appear in an unrelated case. Deputies went to his Palm Beach home and the landlord consented to a search. Deputies found a box with a large amount of money.
When Sharp returned that night, he was arrested on the outstanding warrant from Collier County. Groceman, the SUV driver, a convicted felon who has prior arrests involving bank robberies in 1995, was charged with possession of ammunition by a convicted felon.
Deputies found two fully loaded, 15-round handgun magazines in the SUV.
Deputies said Sharp was carrying $2,000 in wrapped bills marked “Florida Community Bank,” which had been held up that day in the Cape. He had four other money wrappers that were empty, the affidavit states, and $4,868 in cash.
According to the affidavit, Sharp contended that he had earned the money selling marijuana.
“That’s what I do,” he said.
The affidavit states Groceman had $2,000 in bundles marked “Florida Community Bank.”
Sharp had black sunglasses that matched sunglasses on the video surveillance camera’s footage of Monday’s holdup and a fedora that matched one worn in several robberies, according to the affidavit.
Groceman reportedly led deputies to a gun and a bag full of cash. He also was booked Tuesday into the Palm Beach County Jail.

Aisling Swift is a staff writer for the Naples Daily News. Contact aaswift@naplesnews.com.