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January 19, 2015 at 12:18 PM

Career criminal charged with robbing 5 Washington banks

The Associated Press

A man suspected of being the “Alabama Band Bandit” faces felony charges of robbing five banks in July in Lynnwood, Bellingham and Shoreline. Federal prosecutors Friday also charged Michael Ryan Hardesty with possessing a stolen firearm.

Hardesty had recently been released from federal prison after being sentenced to 7 1/2 years in 2008 for possession of an unregistered firearm. He had previous convictions for burglary, grand theft and drug charges in Washington, Florida and Michigan, according to court records. Phone and email messages left with Hardesty’s lawyer, Peter Camiel, seeking comment were not immediately returned.

The FBI had offered a $5,000 reward in August for information on a man “wearing a wig, glasses, and some sort of hat” who went into five banks in July and threatened tellers with a gun.

The robber had taken $3,500 from the Bank of America in Lynnwood on July 7, and then hit the Whidbey Island bank in Shoreline for $4,200 on July 11. One week later, he went into the Washington Federal Bank in Bellingham and took $2,618 and hit that same bank again on July 25. On July 30, he took $22,000 from the Wells Fargo in Lynnwood, according to the charging document.

Hardesty was arrested in August and is being held in King County Jail in lieu of $500,000 bail.

Hardesty was living in Sedro Wolley in 2006 when he was arrested while driving a stolen vehicle. A search of the car found an unloaded sawed-off rifle under the seat. A state trooper also found ammunition.

He pleaded guilty in 2007 to the firearm charge and was sentenced in 2008 to 92 months. At the time of sentencing, U.S. District Judge Marsha Pechman told Hardesty, “you are a danger to yourself and others.” But she noted that he had been emotionally stunted by an abusive childhood and drug addiction, according to a statement by the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Seattle.

Comments | More in The Blotter | Topics: Alabama Band Bandit, Bank robbery, Michael Ryan Hardesty

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