Woman accused of robbing Johnson City restaurant; federal charges placed

Becky Campbell • Jan 11, 2012 at 10:28 PM

A Johnson City woman faces federal robbery charges because she reportedly posed as a federal agent while holding up a Mexican restaurant.

Tammy Michelle Copas, 39, 448 Cedar Grove Road, was handed over to the FBI, according to the Johnson City Police Department. Her arrest came two days after the Jan. 9 armed robbery at La Perla Restaurant, 2508 S. Roan St. At the scene, police were told a woman entered the store, pulled out a handgun and demanded cash.

According to a complaint filed in U.S. District Court in Greeneville, Copas is accused of the two robberies at La Perla. Elizabethton police said Copas is considered a suspect in the robbery of Discount Tobacco.

On Dec. 17, Copas is accused of going to La Perla, identifying herself as an FBI agent and saying she had to check the restaurant’s safe and cash register for possible counterfeit bills.

Copas was allowed into the office where she searched clothing hanging on the walls, removed jewelry from that clothing and took money from a cash register.

On Friday, Copas returned to the restaurant, approached a Hispanic male in the parking lot and demanded to see his “papers.” A witness said Copas was carrying a black pistol in the waistband of her pants, according to the federal document.

The second robbery occurred Saturday at Discount Tobacco, 620 N. Roan St., Elizabethton. Police developed Copas as a suspect and Investigator David Peters said charges against her are forthcoming. The Discount Tobacco robbery could go to federal court because the outlet is involved in “interstate commerce,” according to the federal paperwork.

During the investigation, Peters said a woman entered the tobacco shop, pulled out a pistol and demanded cash from the clerk. The woman left the store with an undetermined amount of money.

The store security camera had an image of the woman and the Dodge Neon she drove.

On Monday, La Perla was robbed a second time. According to the federal document, a La Perla employee said Copas came in with a handgun and took money.

After the second robbery, Johnson City police released clips from a video surveillance camera at La Perla that showed Copas standing at the counter holding a weapon.

A video surveillance camera outside the store recorded the suspect leaving in a dark colored, older model Jeep Cherokee.

Elizabethton Bureau Chief John Thompson also contributed to this story

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