Gwinnett grads accused in bank heist

MARIETTA - Two Gwinnett County Public Schools graduates were arrested Thursday night in connection with the theft of money from a bank in a supermarket in Cobb County.

The heist made international headlines after a surveillance video showed two young women in sunglasses smiling during an apparent holdup.

The 19-year-old women, who police said live in Fulton County, and a bank teller were arrested after a brief chase, questioned and charged with theft and drug violations, Cobb County Police spokeswoman Cassie Reece said. Another man also was charged with felony theft and marijuana possession.

''It was a conspiracy to take money from the bank,'' Reece said. ''They were in on it.''

She said the two women, who she identified as Ashley Miller and Heather Johnston, and bank teller Benny Herman Allen III, 22, were stopped Thursday by police about 20 miles from where Tuesday's robbery occurred.

They also were charged with possession of less than an ounce of marijuana, and Miller was charged with trafficking ecstasy and had an outstanding warrant out of Clayton County for probation violation.

Miller graduated in May from Grayson High School, and Johnston graduated in May from Collins Hill High School, said Sloan Roach, Gwinnett schools spokeswoman.

Johnston had a run-in with Gwinnett County police in December after residents of the River Colony subdivision reported someone was scoping out a home on Christiana Drive.

After arriving at the home police talked to Johnston, who said she entered her parent's house through the back window because she did not have a key. She spoke several times of problems with her father, a police report states.

Her father told police during a telephone conversation his daughter had not lived in the house for more than two months and she did not belong inside the home, the police report states. Police issued a warrant on a criminal trespass charge, but it is unclear if Johnston was arrested.

The incident report does not list an address for Johnston, but it lists her occupation as a dancer.

Gwinnett County police spokesman Cpl. Darren Moloney said the department does not have any arrest records for Miller.

The fourth suspect in the bank theft was identified as Michael Chastang, 27. Authorities did not immediately provide his hometown. He also was charged with trafficking ecstasy, providing a false name and date of birth and had an outstanding warrant for failure to appear out of Fulton County.

Douglas County Sheriff's Maj. M.O. Harper said police from Cobb County, where the robbery took place at a Kroger branch of a Bank of America, chased Miller, Johnson and Allen into the neighboring county where deputies were called in to apprehend them. Harper said the three were immediately turned over to Cobb County authorities for questioning.

Images captured from the surveillance video by police show the robbers wore dark sunglasses to disguise their faces as they handed a teller a note demanding cash Tuesday afternoon.

Police also declined to release the contents of the robbers' note and the amount of money stolen. Spokesman officer Wayne Delk said only it was ''considerable.''

The store is in a strip mall in an upscale west Cobb residential neighborhood, about 28 miles north of Atlanta.