In new legislation that banking and law enforcement officials say may be the first of its kind, robbers in Maryland could face stiffer prison sentences if they use a threatening note to carry out their crime. The General Assembly approved the legislation to penalize note-passing in robberies in a little-noticed act before it adjourned last week. The law applies to robberies carried out anywhere, although it is aimed at curbing bank holdups, which have been on the increase in the state in recent years. "This is something that's frequently done in bank robberies," said Sen. Robert J. Garagiola, a Montgomery County Democrat. "They pass over a note that says 'I have a bomb under my coat' or 'I have a gun.' They know the tellers are trained not to resist, and they end up walking away with thousands of dollars." Details at: