Friday, November 03, 2000

Man, 55, charged in plot to rob bank

By Susan Vela
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        COVINGTON — A 55-year-old Elsmere man — who authorities say wrote a bank robbery script that went unused before his arrest earlier this week — appeared Thursday in U.S. District Court.

        Charles Leroy Woods faces indictment as early as next week for allegedly masterminding a plot that involved wigs, disguises, two-way radios, police scanners and a vest made to look like it contained dynamite and a bomb. According to court papers, the curtain would have opened on this play today— if police hadn't heard from a tipster.

        At an initial appearance before U.S. Magistrate Gregory Wehrman, Mr. Woods was officially charged with conspiring to rob the Fifth Third Bank in Edgewood. If convicted, he faces up to four decades in prison and $1 million in fines.

        Convicted in 1993 of a federal firearm-possession charge, Mr. Woods was violating his federal parole when arrested Wednesday, police say.

        According to a federal affidavit filed Thursday in federal court, the bank robbery would have happened today if FBI agents hadn't received a tip last week that two men — Tyrone Moore and Charlie Ballman, of South Grand Avenue in Fort Thomas — were planning the robbery and had shaved their heads and planned to use dynamite to commit the crime.

        FBI Special Agent Michael Shafer contacted Mr. Moore. According to court papers, he admitted the plot and said Mr. Woods was spearheading the plans. Mr. Woods allegedly had persuaded Mr. Moore and Mr. Woods' half-brother, Mr. Ballman, to help in the robbery. Mr. Woods allegedly carried a gun and threatened to shoot them if they didn't cooperate with his plans, officials said.

        According to court papers, Mr. Moore also noted a script that outlined everybody's parts in the robbery.

        For the FBI, Mr. Moore recorded a Tuesday conversation that he had with Mr. Ballman about the robbery and Mr. Woods' involvement.

        According to court papers, the three were supposed to meet Wednesday morning to discuss the robbery and rehearse Mr. Woods' script. But Mr. Moore told FBI agents that Mr. Woods might be aware of their investigation.

        Because of safety concerns, agents called Mr. Ballman and told him to leave his Fort Thomas residence. They then arrived there and arrested Mr. Woods.

        He was carrying a loaded 9mm semiautomatic pistol, police scanner, false identification and the handwritten script outlining the bank robbery, officials said. They said a suitcase carrying robbery equipment was found on the premises.

        An investigation will determine whether Mr. Moore and Mr. Ballman will be charged, said Assistant U.S. Attorney Fred Stine.

        Mr. Woods is in the Campbell County Jail.


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