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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.

Man pleads guilty in bank fraud case

An Arizona man who helped a North Idaho woman commit bank fraud has pleaded guilty.

Charles Earl Baker, 32, faces up to 30 years in prison, a $250,000 fine and five years of probation when he's sentenced June 19 in U.S. District Court in Coeru d'Alene.

Baker pleaded guilty today to conspiracy to commit bank fraud for a scheme involving Michelle Ann Mason, who pleaded guilty earlier this month.

Baker met Mason in late 2010 and opened a bank account that he used to deposit counterfeit, altered or forged checks that had been stolen from mail.

Baker then withdrew the cash using ATMs. Mason admitted to organizing Baker and at least five others to steal mail in the Oldtown, Idaho, area. Mason is to be sentenced June 18.

The case was investigated by the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, Pend Oreille County Sheriff's Office, Kootenai County Sheriff's Department, Bonner County Sheriff's Office, and the U.S. Secret Service.

Woman guilty in Oldtown mail theft ring

A woman who led a mail theft ring in the Oldtown, Idaho, area pleaded guilty last week in Coeur d'Alene.

Michelle Ann Mason, 27, faces up to 30 years in prison, a $1 million fine and five years of probation when she's sentenced June 18 in U.S. District Court in Coeur d'Alene. She also is to pay $37,790.39 restitution.

Co-defendant Charles Earl Baker is scheduled to begin trial March 27.

Mason admitted to organizing at least six people to steal mail in he Oldtown area. Her co-conspirators opened bank accounts, and Mason deposited counterfeit or forged checks that had been stolen from the mail, then withdraw cash from the accounts through ATMs.

Mason used the money to buy items and pay bills. Her victims included banks, merchants and the intended mail recipients.

Mason pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit bank fraud and one count of aggravated identity theft Wednesday.

Bank manager sentenced for $400k theft

A woman who embezzled  $400,000 from the bank she managed in North Idaho for 12 years is to spend 2 1/2 years in prison.

Mary Ann Head, 59, was sentenced today in U.S. District Court in Coeur d'Alene after pleading guilty in December to making false entries in the books and records of a federally insured financial institution - Bank of America in Hayden Lake.

In addition to 30 months in prison, Head will be on probation for five years after prison and is to pay $400,000 restitution and perform 100 hours of community service.

Head began misappropriating ATM funds in 1997 to cover overdraft fees for a longtime customer, according to court documents.

The man never repaid her the $100,000, starting a series of financial discrepancies that soon became a routine way for Head to pay her credit card debt.

Head lived with heavy stress for years as she deceived the bank, but that “pales in comparison to the enormous shame and sadness that weighs upon her.”

Head was caught in December 2009 when the bank installed a new ATM.

Her life has since unraveled.

“She has lost all of her friends as news of her case spread through the community,” according to her sentencing memorandum. She has sold her home in an effort to have money to pay toward restitution and currently lives in a motel…Her husband has moved to New Mexico to look for work and left her alone in Idaho to wait for sentencing.”

Head had no criminal history when she began stealing money from the bank. She has two children ages 37 and 23 and married her husband, Ricky Head, in 1972. She started at the bank as a part-time teller in 1993 and has never worked anywhere else, according to court documents.

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.

Ex-bank manager admits $400k theft

A North Idaho woman who embezzled from the bank she worked at for more than a decade has been ordered to pay $400,000 in restitution.

Mary A. Head, 58, pleaded guilty Wednesday to making false entries in the books and records of a federally insured financial institution.

Head faces up to 30 years in prison, a $1 million fine and five years of probation when she's sentenced Feb. 27 by U.S. District Judge Edward Lodge in Coeur d'Alene. She is not in custody.

Head worked at Bank of America, 162 W. Hayden Ave. in Hayden Lake, from 1993 to 2009 and was the assistant branch manager and banking center manager.

In 1997 she was given control of the ATM and charged with balancing the machine on a regular basis. That's when she started taking money from the ATM “and used it for a variety of purposes,” according to a grand jury indictment filed in March.

In September 2009, Head's control over the ATM changed because the bank installed a new imaging machine. Three months later, she was confronted about discrepancies in the books, records and ATM statements and admitted embezzling money.

Chief honors woman who tracked robber

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.

Man gets 5 years for CdA bank robbery

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.
  

Bank robbery suspect arrested in Ore.

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.

Bad Hair Bandit suspect was school nurse

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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 suspect admitted bank heist

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.

Woman with $26k in bra pleads guilty

A woman who had $26,000 in her bra when booked into the Spokane County Jail is to repay another $7,500 after pleading guilty to first-degree theft.

Lukeisha A. Harris, 25, was credited for three days already served in jail after her arrest in March 2010.

The Seattle-area resident was accused with Corey B. Jones, Charles H. Kendrick and Elicionne L. Washington of stealing thousands of dollars from Spokane banks.

The three were arrested at the North Pointe branch of Chase Bank after employees at the Washington Trust Bank, 438 E. Hastings Road, reported a “heavyset” woman in black clothes and pink shoes had tried to get money with a stolen credit card.

Harris matched the bank employee’s description of the culprit - she’s 6-feet tall and 400 pounds. Police found the cash stash, along with bank receipts, in Harris' bra during booking at the jail.

The Associated Press called it “a fraud bust, indeed” in a short story that quickly went viral and really just made other reporters wish they had thought of that.

A detailed description of the fraud is available here.


  

Man pleads guilty to CdA bank robbery

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.

Bad Hair Bandit on FBI’s wanted list

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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.

Bad Hair Bandit robs Moses Lake bank

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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.

FBI says bank robberies have dipped about 8 percent in first quarter 2011

Our pals at the FBI recently caught our attention by noting that bank robberies for the first quarter of 2011 are down about 8 percent from the year before.

The statistical summary is at this link at FBI.gov's media page: http://www.fbi.gov/news/pressrel/press-releases/fbi-releases-bank-crime-statistics-for-first-quarter-of-2011

It's hard not to get speculative on that downturn. Either the amount of money sitting in banks is down and hence, less appealing to would-be felons.

Or the number of financial institutions is down and with it, the number of folks who stroll by a building in their neighborhood one day and form the crazy idea that they're this generation's Willie Sutton.

To be clear, we regard this as a very positive piece of news.

Was the Bad Hair Bandit here last year?

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A serial bank robber dubbed “the Bad Hair Bandit” may have robbed two north Spokane banks last year.

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
      

Free checking? Yeah, right.

We've grown accustomed to free checking accounts. The thought of paying anything for checking feels like highway robbery, even though research shows accounts cost banks up to $300 annually to maintain. Checking accounts have become like soft drinks and peanuts on an airline flight: Even if it's a service that costs businesses money, we expect to get it for free. Why? Because it's always been free. No other reason.

That's starting to change. Big banks from Bank of America (NYSE: BAC - News) to JPMorgan Chase (NYSE: JPM - News) to Citigroup (NYSE: C - News) have either raised, or are proposing to raise, fees on checking accounts. Basic checking? That'll cost you. Want a paper statement? That's extra. Talk to a teller? There's a fee. Bounce a check? Lose a firstborn.

The response has been predictable: Consumers are angry. And not just angry, but confused. Why are banks — those bloodsuckers that took a shower in federal bailout money — now nickel-and-diming the life out of us? Some thanks.

But the truth is banks have to begin charging more. They're justified to. A slew of new regulations are about to begin curbing the ways banks made money off checking accounts in the past. Motely Fool.com  Read more.

My husband already moved our joint checking account to our credit union. I'm hanging on to my business account at Chase because I'm all about convenience, and Chase is my grocery store. Are you shopping around for a bank or credit union that offers free checking?

Bank robber charged w/ CdA hold-up

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.

2-time bank robber sentenced to 10 years

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.