RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — A man who stole $195,000 from a Midlothian bank in 2019 was sentenced this week to nearly 12 years in prison in a case that raised serious constitutional questions about so-called ‘GeoFence’ warrants.

According to court documents, Okello Chatrie entered the Call Federal Credit Union in Midlothian during the afternoon of May 20, 2019. Once he reached the counter, he passed a note to the teller that read, “I got your family as hostage and I know where you live. If you or your coworker alert the cops or anyone your family and you are going to be hurt… I need at least 100k.”

When the teller told him she didn’t have access to that much money, Chatrie drew a handgun he legally purchased from a nearby gun shop just a month before. He forced the bank employees to open a safe in the back and made off with $195,000 in cash.

Chatrie was eventually found by investigators through a ‘GeoFence’ warrant, which tracked all of the devices with a google account that had been in the bank and surrounding areas at the time of the robbery. The results of the warrant also told investigators when Chatrie entered and when he left, aligning with the timeline established by surveillance footage.

Earlier this year, a federal judge ruled that that search had violated Chatrie’s constitutional rights by conducting an unreasonable search, but that since the detectives had acted in good faith, the evidence obtained through the search could still be admitted.

However, he also warned investigators that that “this exception may not carry the day in the future,” and that investigating agencies must tighten up their use of the controversial investigative technique.

An investigation by 8News in the wake of the ruling found that the number of ‘GeoFence’ requests to Google had increased dramatically from 2018-2020. Several local police departments confirmed that they used the warrants, but could not say how many they’d sought, because they didn’t track that information.

In sentencing documents filed ahead of the judge’s decision, prosecutors and Chatrie’s defense team laid out their arguments for how he should be punished.

Chatrie’s lawyers emphasized his difficult upbringing in Spanish Town, Jamaica, where Chatrie personally witnessed robberies, murders and widespread violence. His mother died when he was a child, according to the filing, which left him adrift and suffering from severe mental health issues.

Chatrie’s lawyers requested a 130 month sentence, or just under 11 years.

Prosecutors, meanwhile, pointed to the seriousness of the offense, and the trauma experienced by the tellers who were threatened by Chatrie as reasons he should be given a harsher sentence of 13 years.

Ultimately, the judge struck a middle ground between the two arguments, issuing a sentence of just under 12 years.