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Sirens & Gavels

Posts tagged: bank robbery

Chicago bank robber cut from air duct

OAK LAWN, Ill. (AP) — A wig-wearing man broke into a suburban Chicago bank vault and nearly made off with $100,000 but got stuck in an air duct and had to be cut out hours later, authorities said Sunday.

Charles Estell, 38, was found early Sunday hiding in an air duct in an office next to the bank, according to Oak Lawn police spokesman Michael Kaufmann.

The Chicago man had allegedly robbed the suburban bank Saturday afternoon, and pointed a gun at bank employees who confronted him in the vault, according to the FBI.

“I don't want to kill or hurt you,” Estell said, according to the criminal complaint. “I just want the money.”

He allegedly stuffed $100,000 in a backpack and fled. Employees told authorities it appeared he escaped through the ceiling.

Authorities spent hours searching for him and located him around 1 a.m. Sunday. But before they could cut him loose from the air duct, they had to remove a wig of long, beaded dreadlocks he was wearing.

According to the criminal complaint, Estell told investigators that he got into the vault through the ceiling.

Estell was charged Sunday with one felony count of bank robbery and could face up to 20 years in prison. He has not entered a plea, and is due back in court Tuesday. It wasn't immediately clear if he had a lawyer. A phone message left Sunday at a number listed as his wasn't immediately returned.

Ore. man accused of robbing CdA bank

An Oregon man already serving 22 years in prison for bank robbery is accused of robbing a North Idaho bank at gunpoint in August 2010.

 A grand jury on Tuesday indicted Bradley W. Monical, of Bend, for the Aug. 27, 2010, hold up of Wells Fargo, 114 E. Appleway in Coeur d'Alene.

Monical, 41, was sentenced in July 2011 to 22 years in prison for robbing a bank in Coos Bay, Ore., in April 2011.

Surveillance photos released by Coeur d'Alenepolice in August 2010 show a masked gunman wearing a bicycle helmet and denim shorts climbing on furniture at the bank. He had a cloth bag that said “Freedom is not free.”

Employees said he told them to hurry while waving a large handgun. He left on a gray, three-speed bicycle.

It's unclear how authorities identified Monical as a suspect, but previous news reports say the FBI suspected him of being a serial robber.

He faces up to 20 years in prison and a fine of $250,000, as well as three years of probation, if convicted.

Monical was convicted of armed robbery in Oregon in 1989 and at one point tried to be his own lawyer in the case in Coos Bay, according to the Coos Bay World.

Tip leads to arrest in July bank robbery

A tip from a concerned citizen led to the arrest Friday of a suspect in a July bank robbery.

Christopher A. Horn, 25, is accused of robbing the Washington State Employees Credit Union, 2523 Northwest Blvd., on July 18 about 12:20 p.m. He appeared in Superior Court today on a first-degree robbery charge and remains in jail.

Spokane police say Horn, wearing a baseball cap and Aviator sunglasses, demanded cash from a bank teller but never displayed a weapon. He told employees not to touch the alarm.

The sunglasses were left at the scene and submitted by detectives for DNA evidence, but the results are not yet back. Police did note in court documents that fingerprints on the glasses did not match Horn's.

Detectives began investigating Horn Feb. 28 based on the tip from the concerned citizen. Employees at the bank looked at photo montages; one positively identified Horn as the robber.

Horn is a convicted felon who most recently was credited for a day served in jail after pleading guilty last month to solicitation to commit possession of a controlled substance and possession of a controlled substance.

Mentally ill robbery suspect still jailed

A mentally ill Spokane man accused of robbing a downtown bank for the second time in two years remains jailed on $50,000 bond.

David Donald Thometz, 49, was arrested in his room at the Carlyle Hotel, just down the street from Washington Trust Bank, 706 W. Second Ave., Friday morning after the robbery.

Investigators used a GPS device included with the stolen cash to track Thometz, who did not wear a disguise during the robbery and is not believed to have had a weapon.

Thometz robbed Sterling Savings Bank on North Wall Street in May 2010 and served time in jail and was placed on probation for five years.

He is supervised by the Special Needs Unit because he is a mentally ill offender. A corrections officer last had contact with him Feb. 21.

Thometz said in 2010 that voices in his head told him to rob the bank. He was also sentenced to a year in jail after burning down his Spokane Valley home in May 2008. He also told investigators a voice in his head named told him to do it.

Even if Thometz posts the $50,000 bond, he won't be able to leave jail because of a Washington Department of Corrections hold.

Toothless robber: I needed dentures

WAYNESBURG, Pa. (AP) — A woman who appeared to not have any teeth in surveillance photos from a bank robbery last month has confessed, apologized and told police she planned the heist because she needed the money for dentures.

Evelyn Marie Fuller, 49, remained in a jail Wednesday unable to post bond on bank robbery and other charges filed a day earlier by police in Waynesburg, in western Pennsylvania, where she's accused of robbing the First National Bank on Jan. 20.

Arresting Officer Tom Ankrom said Fuller, of Carmichaels, about 10 miles east, explained her motives when she confessed to the crime.

“During her confession, she stated she wanted to use the money to pay for dentures she was unable to get through welfare until next year,” Ankrom said.

Police distributed a surveillance photo of the robber, who appeared to be toothless, and an unnamed witness went to police and told them he had loaned Fuller the coat the robber was seen wearing in the picture. The man told police Fuller returned the coat because the zipper didn't work, and police said it matched one the robber is wearing in the picture.

Fuller, at her arraignment Tuesday, told a district judge she has mental health problems and lives on disability benefits, the Observer-Reporter newspaper, of Washington, said Wednesday.

After her arraignment, she told a reporter, “I'm very sorry for what I did, and I know God is going to punish me for it,” before explaining that her pastor told her to tell the truth about what she did.

Robbery suspect sought ‘loony bin’ spot

A man accused of robbing a downtown Spokane bank told police he didn't have a place to stay and wanted to return to a mental hospital, according to court documents.

Donnie Wayne Snow, Jr., 45, was arrested Friday after a robbery at Banner Bank, 508 W. 3rd Ave., about 5:23 p.m.

Employees said he entered the bank and said “Hey ladies, I'm here to rob your bank. Give me all your money,” Spokane police allege. He left with $1,684 - police noted in court documents the presence of two $2 bills - and was arrested a short while later near 3rd and Lincoln.

Police say Snow told them “I did it because I need a place to stay and want to go back to the loony bin.”

Snow is in jail on $20,000 bond after appearing in Superior Court Monday on a first-degree robbery charge.
  

Fla. man takes beer break to rob bank

PORT RICHEY, Fla. (AP) — Authorities say a Tampa Bay area man ordered a beer at a bar, left to rob a nearby bank then came back to finish his beer.

The Pasco County Sheriff's Office says 52-year-old John Robin Whittle was arrested at the Hayloft Bar in Port Richey on Dec. 22.

Deputies say he's the man who robbed a Wells-Fargo bank branch earlier, but not before stopping off at the Hayloft for a brew.

A bartender there says Whittle ordered a beer, disappeared for about 30 minutes and then returned to his beer. Deputies say they arrested him at the bar about 10 minutes after he left the bank.

Whittle remained in jail Dec. 23 on $10,000 bond. No attorney was listed for him. 

$100k bond for robbery, bomb suspect

A U.S. Marshal guides a dog around parked vehicles outside Banner Bank in downtown Spokane after a bomb threat by a robbery suspect Tuesday. (SRPhot/Dan Pelle)

A man accused of making a bomb threat while robbing a downtown Spokane bank on Tuesday remains in jail on $100,000 bond.

Shawn P. Hoffman, 31, handed a bank teller a note claiming he had a bomb that would detonate if she called police, according to court documents.

Hoffman also told Spokane police there was a bomb inside the bank and a man outside with a trigger who would detonate it if they went outside, documents allege, prompting road closures and evacuations.

Detective Paul Lebsock was near the bank when the robbery was reported and held Hoffman at gunpoint before taking him to the ground. Cash flew out of Hoffman's clothes during the take down, police say.

Even in interviews with FBI and police after his arrest, officials say, Hoffman continued to claim a bomb was in the bank, but a sweep turned up empty.

Hoffman appeared in Superior Court Thursday on charges of first-degree robbery and threats to bomb or harm property.

Bike-riding bank robbery gets 17 years

A bicycle-riding bank robber responsible for nine gunpoint heists in Spokane is to spend 17 years in prison and repay $150,118.59.

 Lucas G. Woodard, 34, is in the Spokane County Jail awaiting transport to federal prison after being sentenced Friday in U.S. District Court in Spokane.

Woodard robbed nine banks between December 2009 and October 2010, when he was arrested after fleeing a Washington Trust Bank branch at 1906 W. Francis Ave.

Spokane police Sgt. Jason Hartman, who was driving home from work, heard radio traffic about a bank robbery, saw Woodard fleeing the scene and steered his patrol vehicle into the path of Woodard’s bicycle.

When Woodard fell to the ground, a Glock 9 MM semi-automatic pistol and some rounds of ammunition fell out of his backpack.

Hartman later received department commendations for his actions.

 Before his arrest, Woodard had no criminal record, was employed at Woodard Construction and was reportedly a regular at Maggie's South Hill Grill.

 

He lived alone in a rental home on High Drive on the South Hill. After his arrest, he thanked federal agents “for treating him well, explaining that…because of what he did, he could have been treated poorly,” according to court documents.

Woodard admitted that although he had a gun, he would never have used it. Woodard also stated that he was a ‘gentle guy’ apart from the robberies that he committed.”

Report: ‘Bad Hair Bandit’ confesses

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A former nurse at the Kootenai County Jail suspected in a series of bank robberies while wearing a variety of wigs confessed to the crimes after her arrest, according to court documents.

Cynthia Van Holland, 47, accused of being the “Bad Hair Bandit,” remains in custody at the Placer County Jail near Sacramento, Calif., where a federal hold was recently implemented that prohibits her from leaving jail on bond.

Her appearance in U.S. District Court in Sacramento has not yet been set.

Van Holland previously was held on $500,000 bail for robbery and conspiracy to commit robbery after a Placer County sheriff's deputy arrested her and her 26-year-old husband, ex-con Christopher Alonzo, on Aug. 15 after a robbery at Bank of the West in Auburn, Calif.

The Bad Hair Bandit had been on the FBI's most wanted list since May.

Van Holland has not yet been indicted by a grand jury but is charged via complaint with three counts of robbery for heists in California.

According to an affidavit filed in federal court in Sacramento, Van Holland confessed to the 20-robbery, four-state spree and described each incident - including a May 9 robbery in Spokane - in an interview with an FBI agent at the Placer County Jail the day of her arrest.

She also confessed to robberies June 28 at banks in Sacramento and Davis. 

“Van Holland also indicated certain items of clothing she kept and other items that she threw away after some of the robberies,” according to the affidavit.

Police found clothes and accessories in Van Holland's car that were consistent with the clothing worn during the robberies. They also found two wigs in the car, along with a receipt indicating they were purchased at a store in Oregon on July 1. One of the robberies occurred in Lake Oswego, Ore., that day. Van Holland also reportedly had a cat and litter box in the vehicle.

The affidavit does not say if Van Holland said what motivated the crimes. The spree began in Tacoma in December, but the FBI believes Van Holland also may have robbed two banks in Spokane in June and August 2010.

Van Holland worked as a contract nurse in jails and prisons and met Alonzo, a convicted felon from North Idaho, when he was an inmate. She was working at the Kootenai County Jail until about a week before her arrest and also worked as a school nurse in Western Washington during the robbery spree.

Van Holland's cousin, Marlene Kootstra, of Bakersfield, Calif., said family has visited Van Holland in jail but she won't discuss the criminal charges against her because it's an ongoing case.

Alonzo also remains in the Placer County Jail. The Idaho Department of Corrections has a no-bail hold because he was on probation when he was arrested.

Bad Hair Bandit suspect worked at jail

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A series of bank robberies involving a woman wearing a variety of unattractive wigs may be the work of a nurse employed at the Kootenai County Jail until just last week.

 The FBI announced Wednesday that Cynthia Lynn Van Holland, 47, is believed to be the serial robber nicknamed the Bad Hair Bandit, who’s been on the FBI’s most-wanted list since June and is suspected in at least 20 robberies in three states.

Van Holland, of Hayden, Idaho, was arrested Monday after a bank robbery northeast of Sacramento. Her husband, 26-year-old Christopher S. Alonzo, also was taken into custody. The two remain in the Placer County Jail in Auburn, Calif.

 A family member said Van Holland met Alonzo while working as a nurse at a prison in Southern Idaho.

Read the rest of my story here.

Past coverage:

May 12: Was the Bad Hair Bandit here last year?

Robberies attributed to the Bad Hair Bandit, not including the two in Spokane last year:

  • US Bank, Tacoma, WA—12/22/2010 
  • Key Bank, Tumwater, WA—01/05/2011 
  • Key Bank, Tacoma, WA—01/12/2011 
  • Wells Fargo Bank, Spanaway, WA—01/14/2011 
  • Heritage Bank, Tacoma, WA—01/21/2011 
  • Cathay Bank, Kent, WA—01/26/2011 
  • First Security Bank, Redmond, WA—01/27/2011 
  • US Bank, Auburn, WA—02/10/2011 
  • Wells Fargo Bank, University Place, WA—02/19/2011 
  • Sound Community Bank, Tacoma, WA—03/25/2011 
  • Wells Fargo Bank, University Place, WA—04/09/2011 
  • Cathay Bank, Bellevue, WA—04/21/2011 
  • Wheatland Bank, Ellensburg, WA—04/26/2011 
  • Key Bank, Moses Lake, WA—04/27/2011 
  • Chase Bank, Spokane, WA—05/09/2011 
  • Sterling Bank, Moses Lake, WA—06/07/2011 
  • Key Bank, Lake Oswego, OR—07/01/2011 
  • Yakima Federal, Richland, WA—07/18/2011 
  • Bank of Butte, Butte, MT—08/11/2011 
  • Bank of the West, Auburn, CA—08/15/2011

Bad Hair Bandit is suspect in Butte hold up

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BUTTE (AP) — The FBI is investigating whether a Montana bank robbery is related to at least 18 bank robberies in Washington and Oregon attributed to “the Bad Hair Bandit.”

A woman wearing a short, dark-haired wig robbed the Bank of Butte Thursday, getting away with an undisclosed amount of cash. The robber implied she had a gun.

Butte-Silver Bow County Sheriff John Walsh tells The Montana Standard the FBI is looking into whether the bad hair bandit is involved. An FBI spokeswoman wouldn’t comment.

The FBI’s website says the Bad Hair Bandit robs banks by passing a note to the teller and claiming that she has a gun. She wears a variety of unattractive wigs during the robberies.

The FBI believes the same woman may have also robbed two Banner Bank locations in Spokane last summer.

A $10,000 reward is being offered for information leading to the bandit’s conviction.

Jail inmate: Lack of porn violates rights

MOUNT CLEMENS, Mich. (AP) — A Michigan jail inmate says he's being subjected to cruel and unusual punishment because he can't have pornography.

In a handwritten lawsuit, 21-year-old Kyle Richards claims his civil rights are being violated at the Macomb County Jail. Richards says denying his request for erotic material subjects him to a “poor standard of living” and “sexual and sensory deprivation.”

The Michigan Department of Corrections tells The Detroit News that prisons allow some pornographic material, though it's banned at the jail. The American Civil Liberties Union says prisons have a lot of leeway.

Richards was charged with bank robbery after police followed a trail of snowy footprints and dropped money to his apartment from a bank robbery scene in January in Fraser, north of Detroit.

Richards pleaded guilty. Sentencing is Aug. 2.

DNA identifies suspect in ‘09 robbery

DNA found on a sweatshirt has helped police identify a suspect in a two-year-old bank robbery.

A Spokane County sheriff's detective obtained a new DNA sample from Rodney R. Phillips, 48, on Wednesday to verify a match noted by the Washington State Patrol crime lab last month.

Phillips is in prison in Walla Walla for robberies in Western Washington. He was arrested July 4, 2009.
 
Banner Bank at 1521 N. Argonne Road in Spokane Valley was robbed June 18, 2009, by a man wearing a 2002 Lady Royals sweatshirt and Spokane Riverhawks hat. Both items were discarded near East Sinto Avenue and North Sargent Road the next day.
 
Surveillance photos show Phillips' preferred outfit in robberies in  Snohomish and King counties was a hooded sweatshirt, hat and sunglasses, according to a search warrant used to obtain Phillips' DNA sample.
 
Police are awaiting the results of the new DNA test before sending the case to prosecutors.

‘Bicycle Bandit’ faces 17-22 years

A bike-riding bank robbery who terrorized local bank tellers for almost a year faces between 17 and 22 years in prison after pleading guilty in U.S. District Court Thursday.

  Lucas G. Woodard, 34, pleaded guilty to nine counts of armed bank robbery that netted a total of more than $166,000.

He's to be sentenced Sept. 7 at 9:30 a.m.

Read the rest of Thomas Clouse's story here.

Past coverage:

May 19: Plea expected in bank robbery spree

Nov. 29: Bank robbery suspect: 'I'm a gentle guy'

Oct. 18: Bike-riding bank robbery suspect identified

Per request, bank suspect lowers hood

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — The FBI says an Ohio bank robbery suspect left authorities with good surveillance photos because he lowered his hood when an employee told him to.

FBI Special Agent Harry Trombitas says the man in his mid-20s entered a Columbus PNC Bank on Wednesday with his dark hood up, covering most of his face.

Trombitas says in a statement that the bank has a “no hats, no hoods” policy, so a bank employee told the man (pictured) to pull his hood down, and he complied.

The FBI says when the suspect got to the counter, he handed the teller a note saying he had a gun and to give him money or he would shoot. He fled with an undisclosed amount of cash.

Columbus police haven't announced an arrest.

Plea expected in bank robbery spree

A Spokane man suspected of a series of armed bank robberies is expected to plead guilty today.

Lucas G. Woodard, 34, faces up to 25 years in prison. The Federal Bureau of Investigation believes he may be the bicycle-riding bank robber responsible for a spree that began Dec. 22, 2009, and ended last October. More than $144,000 was stolen, according to court documents.

(A July 28 robbery at Spokane Teachers Credit Union on Indian Trail is pictured above; Chase Bank on April 19 is below.)

 Attorneys have been negotiating a plea deal, and prosecutors filed eight bank robbery new charges against Woodard Wednesday

He was previously charged with using a firearm in the commission of a violent crime, which carries seven years to life in prison, but that charge could be dismissed as part of a plea deal.

Woodward has been in jail since his arrest Oct. 14 after a gunpoint robbery at Washington Trust Bank on West Francis Avenue. Witnesses told 911 dispatchers where the robber fled, and Spokane police Sgt. Jason Hartman, who was in plain clothes and driving home, intercepted Woodard as he approached Salk Middle School.

Woodard's bike collided with Hartman's car, and the suspect's gun fell to the ground. Woodard reached for the weapon, but Hartman restrained him until backup arrived, police said.

The incident earned Hartman the medal of valor, the Spokane Police Department's highest recognition. He's pictured with Mayor Mary Verner and Police Chief Anne Kirkpatrick.

“Sgt. Hartman had prior knowledge of this serial bank robber and knew him to be extremely dangerous,” according to the SPD website. “Even though he was in plain clothes and not wearing a vest, Sgt. Hartman made the courageous decision to confront the suspect at that time to prevent his escape or his further endangering of innocent citizens, even if it meant he had to shoot it out with him then and there.”

Woodard had no criminal record, was employed at Woodard Construction and was reportedly a regular at Maggie's South Hill Grill.

He lived alone in a rental home on High Drive on the South Hill. After his arrest, he thanked federal agents “for treating him well, explaining that…because of what he did, he could have been treated poorly,” according to an affidavit filed in U.S. District Court. “

Woodard admitted that although he had a gun, he would never have used it. Woodard also stated that he was a ‘gentle guy’ apart from the robberies that he committed.”

Along with the Oct. 14 heist, Woodard is accused of the following robberies:

  • Dec. 22, 2009: Sterlving Savings Bank, 3000 S. Grand Blvd.
  • Feb. 13, 2010: Chase Bank, 2215 W. Northwest Blvd.
  • April 19, 2010: Chase Bank, 2215 W. Northwest Blvd.
  • May 18, 2010: Chase Bank, 3007 E. 57th Ave.
  • May 26, 2010: U.S. Bank, 621 E. 30th Ave.
  • July 28, 2010: Spokane Teachers Credit Union, 8703 N. Indian Trail
  • Aug. 13, 2010, Inland Northwest Bank, 2110 N. Ruby St.

4 bragged online about Texas robbery

HOUSTON (AP) — Authorities say four people were indicted in a Houston bank robbery after bragging about it on Facebook.

Federal prosecutors say two former tellers at the International Bank of Commerce recruited a boyfriend and a brother to steal more than $62,000 on March 23.

Prosecutors say former tellers 18-year-old Estefany Danelia Martinez and 19-year-old Anna Margarita Rivera; Martinez's boyfriend, 19-year-old Ricky Gonzalez; and Rivera's brother, 22-year-old Arturo Solano were indicted Wednesday on charges of bank robbery and embezzlement.

Authorities say an anonymous tip led investigators to Facebook posts. In one Martinez wrote, “IM RICH.” Another post said: “WIPE MY TEETH WITH HUNDEREDS.”

Gonzalez's attorney, Lance Hamm, says his client is “extremely remorseful for what he's accused of doing.”

Attorneys for the others did not immediately return messages Wednesday night.

Ex-Spokanite dies in Mo. police shootout

A former Spokane man with a 2006 arrest warrant for felony theft died in a shootout with police in Missouri last month.

Lonnie Eugene Moore, 41, died March 29 after he shot at a police officer after being pulled over on a freeway near Kansas City and the officer returned fire.

The Kansas City Star reported Saturday that Moore's extensive criminal history includes several convictions in Western Washington.

His years in Spokane were mostly quiet, though he was wanted on a $10,000 warrant for attempted theft after a security guard at Holy Family Hospital spotted him trying to break into a vehicle, according to a probable cause affidavit.

Moore was the prime suspect in seven Kansas City-area bank robberies beginning last July.

‘Ho-Hum Bandit’ may have hit Colo. bank

DENVER (AP) — The FBI believe a bank robber who has held up banks on the West Coast has struck in Colorado.

Authorities have dubbed him the “Ho-Hum Bandit” because of his bland appearance.

The FBI says a man fitting his description held up a Chase Bank in Edgewater, just outside Denver, on Wednesday.

He's described as a white male in his early 30s. He's five-foot-five and weighs about 150 pounds.

The FBI says the “Ho-Hum Bandit” has robbed banks in San Diego, Los Angeles, Seattle and Cheyenne, Wyo.

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