Not only was he a bad cop, but he was bad at breaking into banks, too.

Former Prince George's County Police Cpl. Eddie Lee Smith Jr. appeared in federal court in Greenbelt on Tuesday and pleaded guilty in a Temple Hills bank break-in that failed miserably. Smith, of Fort Washington, faces up to 20 years in prison. His sentencing is set for Oct. 18.

"Bad cops have no place in our profession; they tarnish the good work that is being done by the rest of our employees," said Police Chief Roberto Hylton.

Smith, 42, admitted that he approached 53-year-old Earl Blake last year with a bank job -- an after-hours heist of the SunTrust Bank at 4625 Old Branch Ave. Smith would cut the burglar alarm, unlock the doors and stand watch in his police cruiser. All Blake had to do was hack open the automated teller machine safe. There was at least $40,000 inside.

Blake agreed.

On the night of June 9, 2009, Smith drove Blake to the bank in his marked cruiser, handed his accomplice a black bag containing an electric saw and grinder and other burglary tools, and instructed Blake how to cut the ATM open. Just as Smith promised, the bank was unlocked and Blake walked right in. He turned the surveillance cameras so that they couldn't tape him and began to cut open the safe.

Smith kept watch in his police cruiser, around the block.

But around 3:30 a.m., several hours into the job, something went wrong. The bank's silent fire alarm went off without the bank robbers knowing about it.

The fire engine drove past Smith and he quickly followed the truck into the bank parking lot in his cruiser. Smith told the firefighters that he had already checked the bank and it was secure. Nothing to see.

But the fire officials could smell the odor of burning metal and decided to check the bank themselves. A firefighter surprised Blake, and Blake fled through the back door. Smith pretended to give chase.

A few minutes later, Smith returned alone, hopped in his cruiser without saying a word to the firefighters or contacting dispatchers and drove off.

Blake was quickly captured in a foot chase by other Prince George's County police officers. Two days later, Smith was arrested, too. He eventually resigned.

Blake, of Capitol Heights, had pleaded guilty to the same charge and is scheduled to be sentenced Aug. 12.