FAIRFIELD — The wheelman of a 2018 bank robbery was sentenced this week to 25 years in prison.

Judge Greg Milani handed the sentence to Ross Edward Thornton, 36, of Hedrick, on Monday. Thornton was found guilty of first-degree robbery by a Jefferson County jury in October.

He was the only one of three defendants that went to trial in the case. The other two — Ethan Spray, 30, of Ottumwa, and Jordan Crawford, 31, of Mt. Pleasant — pled guilty.

Jefferson County Attorney Chauncey Moulding described Thornton as the wheelman for the robbery, even though he wasn't the one who physically robbed the bank. The prosecutor said investigators believed the money stolen was used to start an interstate drug-trafficking conspiracy.

The 25-year sentence handed to Thornton, of which at least 70% must be served, was the maximum allowed by law for the charge. Thornton was the getaway driver in the robbery of the Pilot Grove Savings Bank in Packwood.

It's the second time Thornton has been convicted of robbing that same bank. He was sentenced to 10 years in prison for the first time.

Thornton was also ordered to repay $14,548 in restitution to Pilot Grove, split with the two other co-defendants in the case.

Thornton has filed his intent to appeal.

Kyle Ocker is the group editor of the Ottumwa Courier and the Oskaloosa Herald. He can be reached at kocker@ottumwacourier.com. Follow him on Twitter @Kyle_Ocker.

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Kyle Ocker is a Centerville native and award-winning multimedia journalist. Kyle is currently the first vice president of the Iowa Freedom of Information Council and vice president of the Iowa Print Sports Writers Association.

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