Friday, April 4, 2003

Accused robber flees to FOP hall


Asks cops for a getaway ride

By Janice Morse
The Cincinnati Enquirer

LIBERTY TWP. - Two lessons from "Bank Robbery 101": Never ask police officers to drive you home after a heist. And don't try to stash your loot inside the police union hall.

John Clayton Wedge, 39, of Hamilton is accused of robbing the Fifth Third Bank inside the Kroger store at 5420 Liberty-Fairfield Road Wednesday.

Though unarmed, a robber used a note to demand $50 and $20 bills, said Butler County Sheriff's Maj. Anthony Dwyer, and got away with about $1,700.

"I guess that was his only success of the night," Dwyer said.

The sheriff's dogs, a helicopter and marked cruisers forced the robber to hide in the Great Miami River for four hours.

Police said Wedge, then, covered in mud, approached the Hamilton Shrine Club off Kennedy Camp Road, less than a mile from the robbed bank. Two people came out, and Wedge asked them for a ride home, claiming he had been robbed and was pushed out of his vehicle. "The pair replied they would be more than happy to help him out because they were both police officers," Dwyer said.

Detective Melina Smith and her husband, Lt. Mike Smith, had just attended the Fraternal Order of Police lodge's monthly meeting at the Shrine Club. "Luck was on our side and misfortune was on his side, when he waltzes his way up for his getaway into an FOP lodge," Dwyer said.

Wedge asked to use a restroom. Although deputies who stayed after the meeting were unaware of the robbery, they were suspicious of Wedge's story and his disheveled appearance. They asked for his identification. Dispatchers found a warrant for his arrest on a probation violation, Dwyer said. After that, officers told Wedge, "We're sending a marked cruiser to help you," said Sheriff's Lt. Mike Craft.

Later, deputies found $1,200 in a toilet tank. Deputies speculated Wedge lost $500 in the river.

Wedge declined a reporter's request for an interview. But Dwyer said Wedge knows the incident makes him a shoo-in for America's Dumbest Criminals.

Wedge also aired a complaint, Dwyer said: "He thought it wasn't fair because there was no FOP sign outside the (Shrine) building."

Wedge was being held in the Butler County Jail Thursday.

E-mail jmorse@enquirer.com




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