A Baltimore man who fraudulently rented cars and eventually robbed the rental car agency at gunpoint pleaded guilty to armed robbery charges in federal court, the United States Attorney for the District of Maryland said Thursday.
James Atkinson, 28, will be sentenced to 12 years in prison as part of his plea agreement.
According to his plea, on Feb. 23, 2018 Atkinson went to a rental car agency in Baltimore and requested a security deposit returned from a car his "wife" rented. The "wife" was actually a drug customer of Atkinson's who would rent cars on his behalf in return for drugs. When the rental car agency employee checked on the car Atkinson referenced, he reported it had bullet holes in the door and said the security deposit wouldn't be returned until repairs were made. Atkinson asked if there were any other cars to rent, but there weren't.
At that point, Atkinson pulled out a revolver and demanded money, eventually stealing $405 from the employee's desk, as well as his phone and wallet, containing another $207. Atkinson then demanded a car and the employee said there were keys in a back room. Atkinson went back and took the keys to a Hyundai Elantra.
When he returned to the desk he began shocking the employee with a stun gun and ordered him into another room. At that point Atkinson left and the employee ran up stairs. He called 911, then began canceling credit cards from his stolen wallet.
Investigators discovered Atkinson had tried to make two purchases using the stolen credit and debit cards. In one attempted purchase, Atkinson ordered from a large online retailer and included his own name, address and telephone number in the order.