Early on an October morning, serial stickup man Evan Foreman and his partner got to work just minutes before the two check-cashing store employees in Baltimore's Old Goucher neighborhood.
The two robbers waited by the door; then Foreman drew a gun and forced a woman to let them in as she opened up for the day. They wouldn't hurt her, Foreman told her, "as long as you don't do anything stupid." With the store's safe opened and more than $21,000 in hand, the men fled in a black Pontiac Grand Am.
The attack on Gold's Check Cashing was one in a string of commercial robberies by Foreman — a campaign of "urban terrorism" as a federal judge described it.
Federal prosecutors say he started out robbing drug dealers but turned to easier prey after he severely beat one of his targets with a shotgun. His refined scheme would hit stores, including a Frankford "One Stop Shop" and eventually an Owings Mills PNC Bank branch where another conspirator worked.
A federal judge sentenced that conspirator, Christopher Horton, on Tuesday, bringing an end to a case that saw the FBI take down a crew that was responsible for robberies across the city. Foreman, 34, and his brother, Michael Foreman, were sentenced last Friday.
U.S District Court Judge James K. Bredar, described Evan Foreman on Tuesday as "a frightening, dangerous, depraved person."
The check-cashing attack left one employee so traumatized that she quit her job.
In a plea agreement, Evan Foreman admitted responsibility for two robberies, the bank larceny and two attempted robberies. As part of that deal, prosecutors dropped charges related to several other alleged robberies.
In another alleged robbery that prosecutors described in court filings, Evan Foreman pistol-whipped one victim, leaving her with eight stitches. He was also accused of dragging another woman around by her hair while pointing a gun at her head. Foreman did not admit to those specific incidents, but they were submitted as evidence in his sentencing.
Bredar sentenced Evan Foreman to 24 years and six months in prison after he pleaded guilty to robbery conspiracy and firearms charges in September. His brother and longtime partner Michael Foreman, 45, got 12 years for his role in the conspiracy. Another brother, Brian Foreman, 39, got 51 months in September for taking part in the bank job.
On Tuesday, Bredar sentenced Christopher Horton, the former bank employee, to two years in prison and two years' supervised release.
Three other men have pleaded guilty to robberies with Evan Foreman in separate cases. His partner in the Gold's attack, Charles Gray, hasn't been sentenced yet.
He started carrying out street robberies in 2007, prosecutors said, ripping off drug dealers using a shotgun and a .44-caliber revolver. He also hit illegal immigrants who mostly worked home construction jobs, who were paid in cash and who Foreman thought would be reluctant to contact authorities, according to a court filing.
Prosecutors say one worker fought back with a construction tool during a robbery attempt, and Evan Foreman later ran across a drug dealer who he hit with a shotgun so hard that it broke into pieces.
By 2008, prosecutors say, he had dedicated himself full-time to robbing liquor stores and check-cashing outfits.
Horton, 30, who family members described as a hard-working father, got involved in the crew in late 2010. Evan Foreman wanted to rob the bank where he worked. Horton knew its security procedures and helped pick the best day for the robbery, according to his plea agreement.
A first attempt in December 2010 failed, and Evan Foreman and Michael Foreman returned for another go the following February. That day, Horton was the only employee working in the bank. The brothers walked in brandishing a firearm and Horton handed over $10,600, studiously avoiding any of the "bait bills" banks use to track robbers, his plea agreement shows.
Neither brother wore a mask, but Horton told investigators he did not recognize either of them.
Family members told the judge he had been intimidated into going along with the plans, and Horton, who had been on release while the case proceeded, promised never to come before a judge again.
"These are some horrible circumstances and I understand that. But since Christopher has been away from those persons, nothing has happened," his mother, Darraux Horton, told Bredar. "I don't think the court knows the street life."
Bredar accepted that Horton felt threatened by Evan Foreman, but said people in his position must stand up and do the right thing. The judge questioned what would have happened had the FBI not closed in on the crew.
"You don't dip your toe in the water of bank robbery," he said.
When Evan Foreman began looking for new targets that summer, the FBI was watching him. In a transcript of a taped conversation Foreman had with a law enforcement source, he revealed the depth of his experience.
"If you ever noticed, an armored truck only do one pick up a week," Evan Foreman said, according to a transcript filed in court. "One pickup. So it's always damn near on a Friday. Can you imagine Saturday's money all the way up to Thursday? And the safe is always right there by the door."
He already had targets in mind, according to the transcripts, and later in the month, after more surveillance, the FBI searched a number of homes, including a house where Evan Foreman was staying.
Just before he was arrested, prosecutors say, he had picked up a new pistol from Horton's brother. He had been planning to use it on the day FBI agents raided his home.
Baltimore Sun reporter Justin Fenton contributed to this article.