Nation/World

Ex-Political Aide Accused Of Robberies

A convicted bank robber who later served as a congressional aide apparently has returned to his old occupation, according to law enforcement officials.

FBI agents and Virginia police arrested Thomas Springer, 46, at his apartment in Silver Spring, Md., earlier this week on charges of robbing a suburban Virginia bank of $5,100.

In his apartment, officers allegedly found the bank loot as well as business cards that indicated Springer had been a press secretary for freshman Rep. Michael Forbes, R-N.Y., earlier this year and for Rep. Toby Roth, R-Wis., in the mid-‘80s. He also served as press secretary for former Rep. Matthew Rinaldo, R-N.J., in 1988, prior to his earlier bank robbery conviction.

Springer served about a year and a half after a 1989 conviction on armed robbery charges. He was accused at the time of robbing three banks in suburban Maryland.

Robert Chesnut of the U.S. attorney’s office in northern Virginia said that in the latest incident, Springer allegedly entered a Crestar Bank branch in Vienna, Va., wearing a disguise and handed the teller a note with cut-out letters that read, “Robbery, I have a gun.” No weapon has been recovered.

When the teller reached for money in the top drawer where explosive red dye packs were hidden, Springer told her to open the bottom drawer instead, Chestnut said.

“The fact that he told the teller not to go into the top drawer told me I was dealing with an experienced bank robber,” Chestnut said. “When you’ve had that experience once, you don’t want it to happen again.”

FBI spokeswoman Susan Lloyd said Springer is a suspect in another Crestar robbery, this one in June. If convicted, he faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. He is being held without bond at a federal prison in Virginia while awaiting a preliminary hearing Monday.



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