Friday, July 19, 2002

Boy's hat helps identify suspect

By Jim Hannah,
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        BURLINGTON — Northern Kentucky authorities did not have to look hard for Gregory A. Sullivan, suspected of robbing 11 banks in Greater Cincinnati over the last two years.

        They put together clues, including his son's distinctive baseball hat captured on video, $20 in bank “bait money” and the vehicle he used to pick up his kids for weekend visitation. The same vehicle, they say, served as his getaway from the heists.

        They arrested him at his child support hearing.

        Mr. Sullivan arrived at the Boone County courthouse on Monday as about 10 officers, from the Boone County Sheriff's Department to the FBI, waited in a back room to arrest him in the robbery of Heritage Bank on Dixie Highway in Fort Wright on June 11. The criminal complaint says $11,000 was taken during the robbery.

        Mr. Sullivan's attorney maintains that his client is not guilty and that the charges against him may be based on an elaborate set of coincidences.

        Police said the “bandana bandit” disguised himself by covering his face with a bandana and sometimes wore a child's baseball cap.

        In the Fort Wright robbery, police say he wore the distinctive cap and left behind the key clue: his fingerprints.

        Security video of the robbery shows the robber wearing a maroon baseball cap with what appears to be a gold letter “B” on the front.

        The type of baseball cap was identified on the day of the robbery as a Bluegrass Baseball Club hat, which Mr. Sullivan's son had been issued in 2001 to play for the Bluegrass Chiefs.

        Heritage Bank gave the robber “bait money,” according to court records filed by the FBI. Police were able to track the bills as they were spent across Northern Kentucky. The “bait money” included a $20 bill that was recovered by police on June 21. It was included in a June 18 bank deposit from the operator of a concession stand at a sports complex in Wilder.

        Police said Mr. Sullivan's daughter's team, the Crushers, played a game at the complex on June 18.

        The 41-year-old man, a lifelong resident of Boone County, was divorced from the mother of his four children in the winter of 2000. He was ordered to pay $207.05 per week, but had trouble keeping up with the payments from the beginning, according to Boone County officials.

        Mr. Sullivan owed more than $10,000 in back child support, according to an affidavit signed in March by his ex-wife. That amount, plus child support due since that date, remains unpaid, records show.

        The FBI did not release a complete list of the banks Mr. Sullivan is suspected of robbing, but police in Northern Kentucky say he is a suspect in the robbery of the former Firstar Bank in Fort Wright on May 17, three robberies in Edgewood from February 2001 to June of this year, and an additional robbery in Boone County.

        Mr. Sullivan is charged only in the Heritage Bank heist. Police said additional charges are pending.

        During a hearing before a federal magistrate on Thursday, Mr. Sullivan denied the charge and the allegations that he robbed at least 11 other area banks.

        “He has maintained his innocence,” said his attorney, Kerry Neff of Covington. “There are alternate explanations for all the events outlined in the criminal complaint.” The federal magistrate found probable cause during the Thursday hearing to hold Mr. Sullivan on no bail. The case will now be given to a federal grand jury.


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