Thursday, November 22, 2001

FBI: 'Potbellied bandit' wanted

By Jim Hannah
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        CRESTVIEW HILLS — The FBI announced Wednesday that the “potbellied bandit” wanted for three Northern Kentucky bank robberies is believed to have pulled off heists in three other states.

        The 5-foot-11-inch, 260-pound man began his spree March 1 when he robbed a bank in Knoxville, Tenn., said Doug Warner, a special agent in the FBI's Northern Kentucky office. The man is now wanted in connection with 12 robberies in four states. The latest was a Bank One in Lexington on Nov. 15.

        “We don't believe he is from the area where he robs banks because he is not concerned about getting his picture taken,” said Agent Warner, a bank robbery specialist.

The FBI wants to know if this man, taped robbing a Lexington bank, has robbed local banks recently.
        The three banks robbed in Greater Cincinnati are all in Northern Kentucky. He is a suspect in the March 22 and July 9 robberies of the Fort Wright branch of Peoples Bank of Northern Kentucky and the April 12 robbery of a Florence branch of Fifth Third Bank.

        Agent Warner said the bandit robs banks off major interstates and is someone constantly on the move. He said the man might even live out of hotel rooms.

        “We are trying to develop a suspect,” Agent Warner said. “But we do not have one at this time.”

    • Knoxville, Tenn., March 1 and 20.
    • Fort Wright, March 22 and July 9
    • Florence, April 12
    • Louisville, May 31 and Nov. 5
    • Georgetown, Aug. 2
    • Frankfort, Sept. 25
    • Divernon, Ill., Oct. 10.
    • Saint Peters, Mo., Oct. 16
    • Lexington, Nov. 15.
        Agent Warner said the best picture police have of the robber is from the surveillance cameras at the Bank One in Lexington. The FBI plans to distribute a “wanted” poster throughout the nation featuring a picture taken by the bank's cameras.

        Witnesses to the Lexington robbery said the bandit is in his late 30s to mid-40s and is balding with sandy hair.

        The bandit hands a teller a note demanding money, never displays a gun and never leaves the note behind, Agent Warner said.

        When he robbed the Fort Wright branch of Peoples Bank of Northern Kentucky on March 22, he was seen leaving in a champagne-colored Ford Windstar, according to police reports. During the July 9 robbery, he left the bank in a brown or copper-colored sport-utility vehicle.

        Agent Warner said there was some confusion among law-enforcement officials about which bank robberies the potbellied bandit has pulled. After further investigation, the FBI said, the bandit is not suspected in any Ohio robberies.

        Three recent robberies north of Cincinnati have now been attributed to another serial bank robber, Agent Warner said. That robber pulls a gun and wears a mask that includes a fake beard. That robber is wanted for holdups on Sept. 28 in Batavia, Oct. 17 in Symmes Township and Oct. 25 in Sycamore Township. Agent Warner said agents are investigating whether the man also robbed a Florence bank on Oct. 19.

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