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Sirens & Gavels

Posts tagged: Federal Bureau of Investigation

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.”

‘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

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.

FBI: MLK bomb is ‘domestic terrorism’

 

In what federal authorities are calling an act of “domestic terrorism,” a bomb capable of killing multiple people was discovered along the route of Spokane's martin Luther King, Jr., parade on Monday.

The device was found in a Swiss Army-brand backpack by Spokane city employees, who alerted authorities in time to re-route the annual Unity March.

A $20,000 reward is being offered for information leading to the arrest and conviction of those responsible.

“It definitely was, by all early analysis, a viable device that was very lethal and had the potential to inflict multiple casualties,” said Frank Harrill, the special agent in charge of the Spokane FBI office. “Clearly, the timing and placement of a device – secreted in a backpack – with the Martin Luther King parade is not coincidental. We are doing everything humanly possible to identify the individuals or individual who constructed and placed this device.”  

The backpack and clothing found inside are pictured above.

Sources say the bomb was equipped to detonate by a remote device, such as a car remote or a garage door opener. The bomb apparently also had its own shrapnel that could have caused significant injuries to anyone near the blast.

Read Thomas Clouse's story here.

Child porn possession gets 70 months

A 32-year-old man was sentenced to five years in federal prison this week for receiving child pornography over the Internet.

Brian Scott Fellman, formerly of College Place, Wash., will be on probation for five years when he gets out and must register as a sex offender for the rest of his life under a sentence imposed Monday in U.S. District Court in Richland.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation in Maryland tracked to Fellman a computer that was sharing child pornography filed over the Internet in 2009. Agents found thousands of images and videos of child pornography that had been downloaded onto one computer.

Fellman, who had been a student at Walla Walla Community College, pleaded guilty in July and was out of custody.

His public defender, Diane Hehir, tried to keep him out of prison, saying Fellman obtained the files from someone who had already organized them and hadn’t looked at many of them. Hehir said in court documents that Fellman had never physically harmed chidlren.

“He has been struggling with shame, embarrassment and guilt because he received child pornography,” Hehir wrote. “Mr. Fellman noted that he had not looked at all or even most of the material that he received, while noting that he certainly had looked at some of it and did not dispute the Government’s characterization or description of the material.”

Prosecutors called for a prison sentence of 10 years, saying “his downloading and collecting of child pornography…helped to encourage and support, what Congress has called, ‘a national tragedy.’”

Michael C. Ormsby, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Washington, said in a prepared statement, “Our youth have been manipulated, victimized and traumatized by sexual predators. Their images have been stolen and will forever be traded over the Internet. Our dedicated law enforcement officers are to be commended for reaching across the country to make this community safer. ”

FBI probing assault at Idaho prison

BOISE, Idaho (AP) — The surveillance video from the overhead cameras shows Hanni Elabed being beaten by a fellow inmate in an Idaho prison, managing to bang on a prison guard station window, pleading for help. Behind the glass, correctional officers look on, but no one intervenes when Elabed is knocked unconscious.

No one steps into the cellblock when the attacker sits down to rest, and no one stops him when he resumes the beating.

Videos of the attack obtained by The Associated Press show officers watching the beating for several minutes. The footage is a key piece of evidence for critics who claim the privately run Idaho Correctional Center uses inmate-on-inmate violence to force prisoners to snitch on their cellmates or risk being moved to extremely violent units.

On Tuesday, hours after the AP published the video, the top federal prosecutor in Idaho told the AP that the FBI has been investigating whether guards violated the civil rights of inmates at the prison, which is run by the Corrections Corporation of America.

The investigation concerns the prison’s rate of violence and covers multiple assaults between inmates, including the attack on Elabed, U.S. Attorney Wendy Olson said. (Elabed is pictured above in July)

CCA spokesman Steve Owen said the company is cooperating with federal agents, as it has with other law enforcement overseeing the prisons.

Lawsuits from inmates contend the company denies prisoners medical treatment as a way of covering up the assaults. They have dubbed the Idaho lockup “gladiator school” because it is so violent.

The AP initially sought a copy of the videos shot on Jan. 18 from state court, but Idaho 4th District Judge Patrick Owen denied that request. The AP had already obtained a copy and decided to publish the videos after a person familiar with the case verified their authenticity.

The videos show at least three guards watching as Elabed was stomped on a dozen times. At no time during the recorded sequence did anyone try to pull away James Haver, a short, slight man.

About two minutes after Haver stopped the beating of his own accord, the metal cellblock door was unlocked. Haver was handcuffed and Elabed was examined for signs of life. He bled inside his skull and would spend three days in a coma.

CCA, the nation’s largest private prison company, said it was “highly disappointed and deeply concerned” over AP’s decision to release the videos.

“Public release of the video poses an unnecessary security risk to our staff, the inmates entrusted to our care, and ultimately to the public,” the prison company said in a statement.

Read the rest of the story by AP writer Rebecca Boone by clicking the link below.

Bank robbery suspect: I’m a ‘gentle guy’

A suspected serial bank robber implicated himself in several holdups and asked authorities if he “will get (messed) up in prison for armed robbery” after his arrest last month, according to newly unsealed court documents. 

Lucas G. Woodard, 33, 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 after Woodard’s Oct. 14 arrest.

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

FBI agents say the Oct. 14 robbery at Washington Trust Bank, 1906 W. Francis Ave., is consistent with bank robberies on Dec. 22, Feb. 13, April 19, May 18, May 26, July 28 and Aug. 24. The robberies netted $123,000, according to the affidavit. (Hold ups on July 28 and April 19 are pictured.)

Woodard has been charged with just one robbery - the Oct. 14 holdup in which he stole nearly $18,000 but was arrested after a witness followed Woodard - who was on a bike - while talking to 911.

A Spokane police sergeant driving home cut Woodard off at West Holyoke Avenue and West Bruce Avenue after hearing the call on his police radio.

Woodard had a loaded gun and ammo along with a black fleece face covering, a pair of black gloves, sunglasses, and brown and gray Eddie Bauer backpack and black Gap hooded sweatshirt, according to the affidavit.

Woodard, who has no criminal record and worked for the family-owned Woodard Construction, is being held without bail at the Spokane County Jail. He pleaded not guilty Oct. 22 to felony charges of armed bank robbery and using a firearm in the commission of a violent crime.

Bike-riding bank robbery suspect ID’d

A 33-year-old man with no substantial criminal record appeared before a U.S. magistrate today, accused of robbing a north Spokane bank at gunpoint last week.

Lucas G. Woodard also is being investigated for a series of robberies that began in December and typically involved a masked gunman escaping on a bicycle. (A Feb. 13 robbery at Chase Bank on Northwest Boulevard is pictured.)

He is being held without bail at the Spokane County Jail after appearing in U.S. District Court Monday, where he is charged with armed bank robbery and using a firearm in the commission of a violent crime. The robbery charge carries a maximum 25 years in prison; the weapons charge carries a minimum seven years and a maximum sentence of life.

Read my full story here.

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