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Citizen Award recepient Carey Smith and Spokane Police Chief Anne Kirkpatrick. (Spokane Police Department photo)
A Spokane woman who helped police catch a bank robber last summer was honored today by Police Chief Anne Kirkpatrick.
Carey Smith was driving north on North Monroe Street near West Dalke Avenue on July 20 when she saw a man running with orange powder coming from a bag he was carrying.
She turned around to follow him and memorized the license plate of his getaway vehicle. Smith gave the information to police, who were searching for a man who held up the Wells Fargo bank at Monroe and West Francis Avenue.
Police spotted the car and followed it; suspect Lawrence A. Wideman (pictured) was arrested after driving through a metal fence into a cemetery and trying to escape in the Spokane River.
Wideman, 44, is a level 2 sex offender with a conviction in 2009 for third-degree rape of a child. He pleaded guilty to the bank robbery in October and was sentenced to 162 months in prison.
Kirkpatrick awarded Smith the chief's Citizen Award this morning at the Public Safety Building.
A Spokane bank robber already headed to prison for 10 years was sentenced Tuesday to five years for orbbing a bank in Coeur d'Alene.
Michael Richard Kent, 40, is to serve the sentence the same time as his 129-month sentence in Spokane County Superiro Court for robberies Dec. 16, 2009, at Chase Bank, 822 W. Francis Ave., and Dec. 24, 2009, at Numerica Credit Union, 1916 W. Francis.
Kent pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court in Idaho in July for a Jan. 12, 2010, robbery at Washington Trust Bank, 218 Lakeside Ave.
Video and surveillance photos released after the robbery led several of Kent's acquaintances to tip the FBI to his identity. Agents searched Kent's Spokane home and found clothes matching those worn by the robber, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office.
A man suspected of robbing a north Spokane bank last week was arrested on Saturday in Portland, Ore.
Jeremiah J. Pickup, 21, was arrested about 4 a.m. Saturday at a hotel, said Spokane police Officer Tim Moses.
Pickup's booking photo is featured at right. A surveillence images from the bank robbery is at left.
Police believe he's the man who robbed the Chase Bank at 5508 N. Division St. on Wednesday afternoon.
The robber told a bank teller he had a weapon and fled with an undisclosed amount of cash, police said.
Police said last week that they believed the culprit was Pickup and released surveillance images showing the robber.
Pickup was taken into custody by Portland police and booked into the Multnomah County Jail on a heroin possession charge and a parole violation. He faces a first-degree robbery charge in Spokane County and also is suspected of robbing a bank in Multnomah County, Ore.
A former prison nurse suspected of robbing at least 20 banks in four states also worked as a school nurse in Western Washington during the crime spree.
Suspected “Bad Hair Bandit” Cynthia Lynn Van Holland's bail was increased to $500,000 when she appeared in court in Placer County on Thursday, where she's been custody since her arrest Monday on suspicion of bank robbery.
The New York Times reports that Van Holland, 47, had a cat and litter box in her Chrysler Sebring when she and her husband, 26-year-old felon Christopher S. Alonzo, were stopped on a freeway outside Auburn, Calif., northeast of Sacramento.
Van Holland worked as a nurse for the Bethel School District in Spanaway, Wash., from September 2010 to March of this year, during which she allegedly robbed 10 banks in Western Washington.
She moved from school to school and as a contracted LPN with Soliant Health, said Krista Carlson, spokeswoman for the Bethel School District. The nurses typically help students with preexisting medical conditions, Carlson said.
Soliant conducted a background check, and “we also did several reference checks on her and found no flags and no priors,” Carlson said.
Van Holland is a longtime license practical nurse in Idaho who met Alonzo while working in the state prison system.
She worked part-time at the Kootenai County Jail from April until just last week. The FBI believes she robbed at least eight banks during that time, including one in Spokane on May 9.
The 20-robbery spree began in Tacoma in December, but investigators suspect Van Holland may be the same wigged woman who robbed two banks in Spokane last summer.
Police say a sex offender admitted to robbing a bank Wednesday in north Spokane.
Lawrence A. Wideman, 43, remains in jail on $150,000 bond for first-degree robbery. Police pulled him from the Spokane River after a chase that began with a gunpoint robbery at Wells Fargo, 6228 N. Monroe St.
Bank employees said the robber pointed a gun at a female employees and said “give me all the money or I'll shoot her,” before he fled with an undisclosed amount of cash.
A woman driving on Monroe Street followed Wideman after spotting him running with orange smoke billowing from his pocket, police said. She watched him climb inside a 1991 Subaru Legacy and called police with the license plate number.
Spokane police Detective Kip Hollenbeck was watching traffic near Spokane Falls Community College when he spotted the car and followed it on Government Way. Wideman sped through a metal gate at a military cemetery, abandoned the car and ran into the river, where police arrested him. A loaded .40 caliber Taurus semiautomatic was located near the river.
Police found a bag of dye-covered cash inside Wideman's Subaru, according to a probable cause affidavit.
Wideman is a level 2 sex offender with a 2009 conviction for third-degree rape of a child. He has several tattoos, including the phrase “God forgives. Outlaws don’t.” on his left shoulder, according to the Spokane County sex offender registry.
A man who robbed two Spokane banks will serve his 10-year prison sentence the same as a pending sentence for a Coeur d'Alene bank robbery.
Michael Richard Kent, 39, pleaded guilty to bank robbery Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Coeur d'Alene for a Jan. 12, 2010, robbery at Washington Trust Bank, 218 Lakeside Ave.
Kent left with $3,175 after handing a teller a note that referenced a gun, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office.
Kent already is due to serve 129 months in a Washington prison for robberies Dec. 16, 2009, at Chase Bank, 822 W. Francis Ave., and Dec. 24, 2009, at Numerica Credit Union, 1916 W. Francis.
He faces up to 20 years in federal prison when he's sentenced Sept. 27, but a plea agreement calls for him to serve the sentence concurrently with the Washington state sentence.
Video and surveillance photos released after the robbery led several of Kent's acquaintances to tip the FBI to his identity.
PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — The FBI says the so-called “Bad Hair Bandit,” sought in connection with as many as 18 bank robberies or attempted robberies in Washington, is now suspected in a robbery in the Portland suburb of Lake Oswego.
Portland FBI spokeswoman Beth Anne Steele says the woman approached a teller Friday afternoon in a Key Bank branch, indicated she had a weapon and demanded money. She walked out with an undisclosed amount of cash.
Steele says the woman wore a distinctive short dark wig and fits the description of other heists by the “Bad Hair Bandit,” who is pictured during a Feb. 10 robbery in Auburn, Wash.
A $10,000 reward is being offered for information leading to conviction of the robber.
The FBI believes the same woman may have robbed two banks in Spokane last summer in Spokane last summer.
She's also believed to have robbed a north Spokane bank in May after robbing banks in Ellensburg and Moses Lake in April.
SEATTLE — A Washington bank robber known for wearing a variety of unattractive wigs is featured in a new wanted poster on the FBI website.
The “Bad Hair Bandit” is the first bank robber from the FBI's Seattle division to appear on the national website in many years, FBI spokeswoman Ayn Sandalo Dietrich said.
The FBI is hoping to get some help from the public in capturing the woman who has committed or attempted at least 16 bank robberies in the Puget Sound area, Ellensburg and Spokane since December 2010.
She is believed to have robbed a bank in Moses Lake earlier this month and may have robbed two banks in Spokane last summer before the spree began in western Washington.
The website features a gallery of 18 surveillance photos of the “Bad Hair Bandit” in various wigs. Many are featured above.
A reward totaling $10,000 is being offered for information leading to the arrest of and charges against the bank robber.
A serial bank robber dubbed “the Bad Hair Bandit” is believed to have robbed a bank in Moses Lake on Tuesday.
A wigged woman matching the description of the robber thought to be responsible for 14 bank robberies since December entered Sterling Savings Bank and demanded money but did not display a weapon, according to the Associated Press. A picture from a February robbery is at left.
The method matches that of the Bad Hair Bandit, who police believed robbed Chase Bank on Francis Avenue in Spokane last month after robbing banks in Ellensburg and Moses Lake in late April.
The FBI believes the same woman may have also robbed two Banner Bank locations in Spokane last summer.
Enjoy a slide show of photos from the 14-bank robbery spree above.
Crime Stoppers is offering a reward for tips that lead to her capture. Anyone with information should call at 1-800-222-TIPS or submit tips online. Tipsters don't have to leave their name to collect a reward but should leave a code name or number.
LEWISTON, Idaho (AP) — A 69-year-old Clarkston, Wash., man is out of jail but barred from casinos after being arraigned on charges related to a bank robbery.
David Payton was shot by officers after robbing a U.S. Bank in Lewiston at gunpoint Feb. 3, Lewiston police said. He was hospitalized for two months.
Nez Perce County prosecutors asked Magistrate Judge Jay Gaskill to arrest Payton Wednesday because of the seriousness of the charges and because Payton has been seen casinos. Police suspect gambling debts may have been the motive for the robbery.
Gaskill allowed Payton to remain free, but ordered him not to enter casinos. Payton is charged with robbery and four counts of aggravated assault. His preliminary hearing is set for June 8.
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.
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.
The FBI is investigating whether a woman believed to be responsible for 14 robberies since last December also struck two Banner Bank locations in Spokane last summer.
On June 30, a heavyset woman robbed Banner Bank at 933 E. Mission Ave. wearing a red wig and sunglasses. Police say the same woman wore a black wig while robbing Banner Bank at 3919 N. Market on Aug. 2.
Nearly five months later, a wigged woman started robbing banks in Western Washington and continued through April.
The FBI believes the same woman robbed banks April 26 and April 27 in Ellensburg and Moses Lake, then Chase Bank on Francis Avenue in Spokane Monday.
Investigators say the Bad Hair Bandit may be staying at cheap motels in the Spokane area. Crime Stoppers is offering a reward for tips that lead to her capture. Anyone with information should call at 1-800-222-TIPS or submit tips online. Tipsters don't have to leave their name to collect a reward but should leave a code name or number.
Surveillance photos from those robberies are pictured left and right. Enjoy a slideshow of photos from the 14-bank robbery spree above.
Here's a list of the robberies tied to the Bad Hair Bandit since December:
- Dec. 22, 10:15 a.m., U.S. Bank, 870 S. 38th St., Tacoma
- Jan. 5, 11:05 a.m., Key Bank, 5400 Capitol Blvd, Tumwater
- Jan. 12, 10:30 a.m., Key Bank, 3501 S. 19th St., Tacoma
- Jan. 14, 3:30 p.m., Wells Fargo, 15004 Pacific Ave., Spanaway
- Jan. 21, 4:20 p.m., Heritage Bank, 8002 Pacific Ave., Tacoma
- Jan. 26, 2:59 p.m., Cathay Bank, 18030 E. Valley Highway, Kent
- Jan. 27, 1:36 p.m., First Security, 14808 N.E. 24th St., Redmond
- Feb. 10, 5:24 p.m., U.S. Bank, 401 SE 15th St., Auburn
- Feb. 19, 11:45 a.m., Wells Fargo, 2615 W. Bridgeport Way, University Place
- March 25, 5:43 p.m., Sound Community, 2941 S. 38th St., Tacoma
- April 9, 12:49 p.m., Wells Fargo, 2615 W. Bridgeport Way, University Place
- April 21, 2:12 p.m., Cathay Bank, 13238 N.E. 20th St., Bellevue
- April 26, 3:25 p.m., Wheatland bank, 205 S. Main St., Ellensburg
April 27, 10:02 a.m., Key Bank, 314 E. 3rd Ave., Moses Lake
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.
A convicted pimp suspected of robbing nine banks in Oregon and Western Washington is in the Spokane jail.
Kevin Antoine Jones, 23, was arrested in Pullman Wednesday and appeared in U.S. District Court on Thursday.
He's awaiting transport back to Seattle. Jones is charged with four counts of bank robbery for hold ups Oct. 16 at U.S. Bank in Tukwila and Wells Fargo in Des Moines, Oct. 18 at U.S. Bank in Seattle and Oct. 19 at Chase Bank in Des Moines.
He's also suspected of robberies Nov. 5 at a U.S. Bank in Portland, and Nov. 6 at a U.S. Bank in Gresham, Bank of the West and Wells Fargo in Troutdale.
Also suspected is Isaiah Jordan Summers, who is in custody.
The two were arrested after a robbery at Columbia Bank in Milton, Wash,., on Nov. 8.
It's unclear why Jones was released from custody, but he was featured on Washington's Most Wanted Feb. 25 and 26.
A viewer's tip led to his arrest at an apartment in 1800 block of Northwest Lamont Drive in Pullman after a brief SWAT team standoff.
Jones has prior convictions for promoting prostitution and gun possession, according to Washington’s Most Wanted.
A reward is being offered for tips that identify a suspect ina bomb threat at North Idaho elementary school last fall that police believe may be connected to a bank robbery.
A man believed to be in his 20s called a bomb threat into the main office at Garwood Elementary School on Oct. 21 at 10:30 a.m.
About an hour later, a masked gunman robbed Wells Fargo Bank, 16234 North Highway 41 in Rathdrum.
The robber, who police believe was alone, is described as a white man in his 20s, 5-foot-5 with a thin to medium build. He drove away southbound on Highway 41 to westbound Highway 53 in a two-door silver compact car, possibly a newer Honda, that was parked in the bank lot.
Anyone with information is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS or submit tips online.
A man sentenced to 10 years in prison for robbing two Spokane banks faces additional time in federal custody for an alleged hold up at a Coeur d'Alene bank.
Michael R. Kent, 38, is charged with bank robbery for a Jan. 12, 2010, heist at Washington Trust Bank.
He's already pleaded guilty to robberies Dec. 16, 2009, at Chase Bank, 822 W. Francis Ave., and Dec. 24, 2009, at Numerica Credit Union, 1916 W. Francis.
He was sentenced earlier this month to 129 months in state prison for those crimes. The bank robbery charge was filed Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Coeur d'Alene.
Kent, who has at least 10 felonies in Washington and Idaho, also has a warrant in Kootenai County for forgery and grand theft charges from May 2009.
A longtime fraud convict who robbed two Spokane banks in December 2009 is to spend a decade in prison.
Michael R. Kent, 39, was sentenced to 129 months in prison Tuesday after pleading guilty to two counts of first-degree robbery.
Kent also was ordered to pay $7,050 - the proceeds of robberies Dec. 16, 2009 at Chase Bank, 822 W. Francis, and Dec. 24, 2009, at Numerica Credit Union, 1916 W. Francis.
The same day Chase Bank was robbed, Kent took his girlfriend and her children Christmas shopping with $600 he said he'd gotten from his savings account, according to court documents. Kent also reportedly handed a friend $9,000 that day and asked him how it felt to hold that much money.
Kent already has at least 10 felony convictions in Washington and Idaho, including seven forgery convictions in Stevens County in 2005. He also faced an identity theft charge for ripping off an ex-girlfriend, but that charge was dropped after he pleaded guilty to the more serious robbery charges.
Kent also is suspected of robbing a downtown Coeur d'Alene bank in January 2010, court documents say. He has a warrant in Kootenai County for forgery and grand theft charges from May 2009.
He remains in the Spokane County Jail.
LEWISTON, Idaho (AP) — Police in Lewiston have released the name of a 69-year-old man who was shot by law enforcement officers after a bank robbery.
David L. Payton of Clarkston, Wash., is hospitalized in critical condition in Seattle.
Officers investigating the robbery of a US Bank branch Thursday morning found Payton walking nearby about 15 minutes after the robbery.
Capt. Tom Greene says when officers approached, the suspect pointed a gun at them and he was shot multiple times. He underwent surgery at a Lewiston hospital and was flown to Harborview Medical Center Thursday night.
Greene says the suspect pointed the gun at the teller and made off with a “fair amount” of cash. Payton has no significant prior criminal record.
The officers involved in the shooting are on paid administrative leave
VIENNA (AP) — Say, isn't that the president with a gun in his hand? Actually, no, but it sure looks like it.
Austrian authorities are searching for a bank robber who uses an unusual disguise: He wears a Barack Obama mask during his holdups.
Police say the man, nicknamed the “Obama Robber” by local media, is wanted for six heists since 2008. The most recent took place last week in the hamlet of Handenberg, where the Obama-resembling suspect made off with an undisclosed amount of money after threatening bank employees with a gun.
Police official Markus Mitloehner said that the man is thought to be a local since he speaks the regional dialect — with nary a trace of Obama's more professorial accent.
Detectives are hoping for fresh clues in an armed bank robbery Dec. 2 in Spokane Valley.
A gunman demanded cash from two tellers at Sterling Savings Bank, 11205 E. Sprague Ave., about 2:25 p,.m. after walking into the bank with his gun already displayed, according to the Spokane Valley Police Department.
“The robber was so low-key and calm, several customers inside the bank at the time were not aware it was being robbed,” according to a news release.
Tellers stuffed cash into blue cloths bags with a clinch drawstring at the top, and the robber placed the blue bags into a similar green bag and walked out the east doors of the bank. He was last seen walking eastbound.
He is described as a white man, 25 to 30 years old, 5-foot-6 and 130 pounds.
He wore a dark jacket, blue jeans, a knit cap, a scarf covering his lower face and dark glasses over his eye.
Police found the glasses, scarf and cap but have not identified a suspect. Crime Stoppers is offering a reward for tips that lead to an arrest.
Patrol officers arrested a suspected bank robber Monday night after detectives in the Tri-Cities tracked him to northwest Spokane.
John T. Walker, 22, was arrested as he fled from a home at 2733 W. Wellesley Ave., about 9:45 p.m., according to a search warrant filed today.
Police believe Walker robbed a Sterling Savings Bank in Kennewick of about $1,800 Monday afternoon, then paid two friends to drive him to Spokane.
A state probation officer recognized Walker from surveillance photos and notified detectives, who learned from the suspect's roommate that he was headed to Spokane.
Detectives tracked pings from Walker's cellphone to the area of the Walmart at 2301 W. Wellesley Ave. They also used vehicle records to connect Walker's friends to a 1991 Honda Accord, which Spokane police officers spotted outside the home where Walker soon fled, according to the search warrant.
The warrant was used to search the home and the Accord and seize cash, a cell phone and a bag of marijuana.
Walker was arrested on a Department of Corrections warrant and appeared in Spokane County Superior Court today on a drug charge. Walker's friends told police that he'd claimed to have recently inherited money and “just wanted to come to Spokane to have some fun,” according to the warrant. Neither has been arrested.
A Spokane man who used a gun in a carjacking and bank robbery after escaping from a work release center in May has been sentenced to nearly 15 years in prison.
Brian E. Gorder, 32, was ordered to spend 171 months in prison after pleading guilty Tuesday to three counts of first-degree robbery and one count of escape before Judge Maryann Moreno.
Federal agents and a police dog arrested him a day after he robbed Washington Trust Bank, 3810 N. Maple, at gunpoint and escaped in a Buick Lucerene he’d carjacked from a woman in the K-Mart parking lot on North Division Street.
Gorder was serving time for a police chase shown on “Cops” when he left the Brownstone Work Release Center and went on the crime spree.
In 2004, Gorder told the newspaper he needed help overcoming his addiction to methamphetamine.
“I’m not a bad person,” he said at the time. “The issue is I have a drug problem. Once I get going on this stuff, I do things I normally wouldn’t do.”
He’s now in jail awaiting transport to prison.
The girlfriend of a man accused of a botched bank extortion has been arrested on a conspiracy to commit robbery charge.
Cheryl A. Siekerman, 33, appeared in Spokane County Superior Court today via video from the jail, where she was booked Thursday.
She’s accused of helping Donnell L. Winston, who police say called Inland Northwest Bank, 518 W. Francis, on Oct. 14 and threatened to blow up five school if he didn’t receive $10,000.
Police say Winston asked for the money to be dropped off at 13th and Arthur - where his home is located. Police saw him talking on his cell phone on porch, then watched him retrieve a package dropped off by an undercover detective.
Winston, 37, was convicted of bank robbery in 2004 and was arrested the night of the incident on a probation violation and remains in jail. Police have recommended he be charged with attempted first-degree bank robbery, along with five bomb threat charges.
A gunman in a large parka and an orange ski mask robbed a bank in Rathdrum Thursday.
Surveillance photos show the man entering the Wells Fargo, 16234 North Highway 41, at 11:37 a.m. Police say he pointed a gun at a teller and fled with an undisclosed amount of cash.
The robber, who police believe was alone, is described as a white man in his 20s, 5-foot-5 with a thin to medium build.
He drove away southbound on Highway 41 to westbound Highway 53 in a two-door silver compact car, possibly a newer Honda, that was parked in the bank parking lot.
Anyone with information is asked to call Rathdrum police at (208) 687-0711 or the Coeur d’Alene division of the FBI at (208) 664-5128.
The robbery occurred about 40 minutes after a bomb threat was called into Garwood Elementary School, which is about five miles from the bank, but police do not know if the incidents are related.
The request was clear: $10,000, or bombs would detonate at five Spokane elementary schools.
Police say that phone call to a north Spokane bank turned out to be nothing more than a poorly executed crime by a convicted bank robber who led detectives to his doorstep.
It’s like out of a bad movie,” said Officer Jennifer DeRuwe, Spokane Police Department spokeswoman. “The sad thing is we do have to treat it as real, because the reality is this stuff happens.”
Now police are recommending six felony charges against Donnell L. Winston, 37, for the Oct. 14 phone call to Inland Northwest Bank, 518 W. Francis Ave.
A gunman suspected of robbing a north Spokane bank on Thursday remains in federal custody as investigators probe his possible role in a series of robberies since December.
Federal agents said they had no new information to release about the man, who has not been publicly identified.
“I think it’s going to be Monday or Tuesday before we see him in court,” Frank Harrill, FBI supervisory senior resident agent, said today.
The FBI has been hunting for a bicycle-riding bank robber believed to be responsible for at least six hold ups since December. (A robbery at Chase Bank in April is pictured.)
The suspect arrested Thursday had a bike, wore a mask and displayed a gun, which is consistent with the other incidents.
“Clearly, there are commonalities,” Harrill said.
A Spokane police sergeant on his way home arrested the suspect, who witnesses say robbed the Washington Trust Bank, 1906 W. Francis Ave., just before 4 p.m.
A man arrested in Spokane on suspicion of bank robberies in Omak, Wenatchee and Moses Lake is to be arraigned Thursday in U.S. District Court.
A grand jury indicted Cameron Len Gaunt, 28, of Chelan, on three counts of bank robbery Aug. 25, more than one month after he was arrested as he stepped outside a Spokane motel room.
Gaunt is accused of robbing the Bank of America in Omak July 13, a Washington Trust Bank in Wenatchee on July 16 and a Washington Trust Bank in Moses Lake on July 20.
The robberies netted more than $12,000, but a citizen’s tip led federal authorities to identify Gaunt as a suspect.
The first robbery came less than a month after Gaunt was released from federal prison for passing counterfeit currency across the Pacific Northwest. He had a prior history of passing forged checks and told police he was released from jail in June 2007 but soon became addicted to methamphetamine and “started hanging around the wrong crowd,” according to sentencing memorandum filed by prosecutors.
Before his sentencing in August 2008, prosecutors predicted that, without “significant effort” on Gaunt’s part, his criminal behavior would continue after prison, according to court documents.
Gaunt is being housed at the Spokane County Jail. He’s due in federal court Thursday at 1:30 p.m.
A man suspected of robbing a north Spokane credit union was turned in to police by his girlfriend’s mother.
Eric C. Mason, 41, pleaded not guilty this morning to first-degree robbery, more than four months after police say he handed a threatening note to a teller at Spokane Teachers Credit Union, 8703 N. Indian Trail Road, then fled with about $1,200.
Surveillance photos from the April 23 robbery showed a man with a black jacket and black knit cap.
Police say Mason’s driver’s license photo matched the robber’s image; detectives looked at it after Mason’s girlfriend mother called and said her daughter drove Mason to the robbery.
Mason later admitted to his girlfriend that he’d robbed the credit union, police said. He didn’t display a weapon but wrote in the note: “Put money in envelope do not alarm! No dye pac’s no tracking devices! No problems,” according to court documents.
Mason reportedly told his girlfriend he planned to turn himself in, but Spokane police Lt. Dave McGovern said he left town instead.
A warrant was issued May 4; Mason was booked into Spokane County Jail Aug. 20, where he remains after his arraignment in Spokane County Superior Court this morning.
Surveillance photos show a masked gunman who police say robbed a Coeur d’Alene bank on Friday, then escaped on a bicycle.
Crime Stoppers is offering a reward for tips that identify the man, who police say threw a cloth grocery bag at employees at Wells Fargo, 114 E. Appleway, about 6 p.m. while telling them to hurry and waving a “large-caliber handgun.”
The robber left with an undisclosed amount of cash and was last seen riding a gray, three-speed bicycle south on Government Way.
He wore a black mask, a black bike helmet, denim shorts, a long-sleeve button-down shirt and white shoes with red “squiggly” lines. He was carrying a white cloth grocery bag with an American flag on it and the phrase “Freedom is not free,” and was described as being in his late 20s or early 30s, police said.
Anyone with information about the robbery or the robber is asked to call Crime Stoppers at (208) 667-2111 or toll free at (888) 667-2111. Tipsters do not have to give a name to collect a reward but should leave a code name or number.
Investigators do not believe the robbery is related to a series of bank robberies in Spokane that have been attributed to a man who typically escapes on a bike.
“There’s nothing inclusive at this point to indicate that was him,” said FBI supervisory senior resident agent Frank Harrill.
The FBI in Spokane still is seeking tips on that robber, who they believe is responsible for six robberies since December. The most recent was a noon-hour armed robbery at the Indian Trail branch of the Spokane Teacher Credit Union July 28.
Anyone with information on those robberies is asked to call the FBI’s Spokane office at (509) 747-5195, extension 2. If it’s after hours, call (206) 622-0460.