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jury convicts kC man of two armed bank robberies

July22, 2011

KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Beth Phillips, United States Attorney for the Western District of Missouri, announced that a Kansas City, Mo., man was today convicted by a federal jury for his role in two armed bank robberies in 2006. 

Iralee E. French, Jr., 24, of Kansas City, was convicted of participating in a conspiracy to commit armed bank robbery in connection with two robbery attempts at United Missouri Bank, 7901 Wornall Road in Kansas City, in February 2006.  During the second robbery attempt at the bank on Feb. 24, 2006, French shot security guard Dwight W. Mayhugh, Sr., who died the next day.

French’s co-conspirator, Thirplus Moose, 24, of Kansas City, pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Gary A. Fenner on July 8, 2011, to conspiracy to commit bank robbery, armed bank robbery with forcible restraint and discharging a firearm during a crime of violence resulting in death.

French and Moose used a shotgun to rob United Missouri Bank on Feb. 9, 2006.  During that robbery, a bank teller was confronted in an underground parking garage as she was about to enter the bank at approximately 6:40 a.m.  The teller was forced to give the robbers $8,263 from a small safe behind her teller station.  After returning to the parking garage, the teller was ordered to get into the trunk of her vehicle, which she repeatedly refused to do.  The robbers left the bank with teller’s vehicle, which was recovered the next day after being abandoned by the robbers.

French and Moose returned to the bank on Feb. 24, 2006.  Using a shotgun, the robbers confronted Mayhugh when he drove into the same underground parking garage.  Mayhugh was shot in the right shoulder and neck from approximately 10 feet away, through the driver’s side window of his vehicle.  The robbers then forced Mayhugh out of his vehicle and into the bank. They demanded access to money, but Mayhugh responded that he did not have access to bank money.  The robbers then stole Mayhugh’s 2002 Geo Tracker and drove it away from the parking lot.  The vehicle was recovered later the same day.
According to testimony, Mayhugh walked to the convenience store across the street from the bank and told the store clerk he had been shot.  The clerk immediately called 911 for an ambulance.  Another store clerk, seeing Mayhugh’s blood-soaked shirt and wounds in the neck and throat area, got a chair for him to sit on.  The clerks placed towels over the wounds until paramedics arrived at the store.  Mayhugh was transported to a hospital for treatment, but died the next day.

Law enforcement officers were unable to develop substantial leads or investigative progress in the bank robberies throughout the remainder of 2006, 2007 and a portion of 2008.  On Aug. 12-13, 2008, law enforcement officers conducted a large scale re-canvas of the area around 23rd Street and Oakley in Kansas City.  Nearly 500 houses were targeted to be canvassed in this operation.  As a result of the publicity related to this re-canvas, a Yellow Cab taxi driver came forward and provided information related to the investigation.  The taxi driver told investigators that, on the morning of the bank robbery, he picked up two men in the area of 5609 E. 23rd (the same area where the stolen vehicles were recovered) and drove them to the area of 79th Street and Brookside (a block east of United Missouri Bank), where he dropped them off.

Law enforcement investigators connected the telephone number that was used to call the taxi company with the telephone number provided by Moose, who had been contacted during the original canvas of the 23rd Street area on the day of the fatal bank robbery attempt.

Following the presentation of evidence, the jury in the U.S. District Court in Kansas City, deliberated for about three and a half hours before returning the guilty verdict to U.S. District Judge Gary A. Fenner, ending a trial that began on Monday, July 18, 2011.

Under federal statutes, French is subject to a sentence of not less than 42 years in federal prison without parole, not more than life imprisonment, plus a fine up to $250,000. 

Under the terms his plea agreement, Moose could be sentenced to 22 to 25 years in federal prison without parole.  Sentencing hearings will be scheduled after the completion of presentence investigation reports by the United States Probation Office.

This case is being prosecuted by U.S. Attorney Beth Phillips and First Assistant U.S. Attorney David M. Ketchmark. It was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Kansas City, Mo., Police Department, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the U.S. Marshal’s Service, the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Office of Homeland Security Investigations and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service.

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