STAMFORD -- The alleged ringleader of a 2008 bank robbery in Darien, during which $158,000 was stolen from the vault, pleaded guilty the day before his trial was set to begin.

Floyd Lawrence of Henry Street, Stamford, agreed to serve 13 and a half years in prison Thursday afternoon, pleading guilty to charges of first-degree larceny and first-degree robbery, according to court records. The last-minute settlement came as both the state and defense finished picking a jury for a trial that was scheduled to begin Friday.

Lawrence faced felony robbery, larceny and kidnapping charges for allegedly robbing the Commerce Bank on the Post Road in Darien in June 2008 with two accomplices. Authorities say the heist was part of a plan they hatched as gym buddies. He has been incarcerated since his arrest in July 2008, and a year later, was sentenced to serve the seven years remaining on a prison sentence from a robbery conviction in 2000.

Lawrence is accused of recruiting Klaus Pierre-Louis and Stanley Romsaint, both of Stamford, to help in his robbery plan, according to court documents. Pierre-Louis and Romsaint were 20 at the time.

Darien police investigators say that on June 12, 2008, Lawrence and a masked man accosted Pierre-Louis, a bank employee, and his co-worker as they opened the bank in the morning. Lawrence and the other man were armed and ordered Pierre-Louis and the other employee into the bank vault. They left with $158,000.

A fourth suspect, Damien Bailey, 31, of 101 Columbus Place, Stamford, was identified by a witness as one of two men who walked into the bank with a gun.

Romsaint and Lawrence ordered motorcycles from the same White Plains, N.Y., dealership on the day of the robbery, a fact that, along with a witness statement and surveillance video, helped police track them down.

Lawrence is being held in lieu of $750,000 bond. Romsaint and Pierre-Louis pleaded guilty, agreeing to serve suspended jail sentences in exchange for cooperating with authorities.

Staff Writer Jeff Morganteen can be reached at jeff.morganteen@scni.com or (203) 964-2215.