Saturday, June 02, 2001

Bank teller charged in robbery

Accused of aiding heist in Hamilton

By Janice Morse
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Bank teller Jessica Witt is accused of helping a trio of Hamilton men rob her place of employment last month.

        According to an affidavit filed by an FBI agent in U.S. District Court in Cincinnati, Ms. Witt, 22, helped orchestrate the May 9 heist of the First National Bank of Southwestern Ohio on Peck Boulevard in Hamilton.

        Ms. Witt appeared in federal court Friday on charges of armed bank robbery and aiding and abetting.

        She was expected to be released after posting $5,000 bond, and was scheduled to appear at a June 14 hearing.

        Richard Depew, 19; Stanson Hemphill III, 20; and Douglas Edward Brown, 31, were arrested by Hamilton police Wednesday.

        The men, all being held in the Butler County Jail, also will be prosecuted in federal court, officials said.

        Catherine Pulley, spokeswoman for the American Bankers Association in Washington, D.C., said it was “pretty rare” for a teller to be accused in a robbery, but that no figures were available from her organization nor from the FBI.

        Three out of four bank robbers are caught within 18 months, Ms. Pulley said.

        A First National spokeswoman did not return a telephone call seeking comment Friday, but Hamilton Police Sgt. Thomas E. Kilgour said bank officials were very helpful to police.

        “Without their cooperation, this would have been a very difficult case,” he said.

        According to an affidavit filed by FBI Special Agent Terence F. Moran, Ms. Witt, a teller at the bank for about four years, signed a statement “admitting to her involvement in the robbery.”

        According to the affidavit, she said Mr. Hemphill provided the gun that Mr. Depew brandished in the robbery, and that Mr. Hemphill served as driver of the getaway car.

        Mr. Depew tossed a backpack to Ms. Witt, who was working at the time, and ordered her to exclude a dye pack, which can be used to coat money with dye and make the cash unusable, the affidavit said.

        Mr. Brown was not present for the robbery but “admitted to receiving $3,000 of the proceeds,” according to the affidavit.

        Mr. Brown said he instructed the other two men to give some of the money to Ms. Witt, the FBI said.

        Shortly after the robbery, an informant noted that Mr. Depew “had just recently purchased a Nissan Maxima, chocolate brown in color, with fancy wheels,” according to the affidavit.


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