buffalo man charged with multiple bank robberies
BUFFALO, N.Y. -- U.S. Attorney William J. Hochul, Jr. announced today that Michael Mitchell, 21, of Buffalo, N.Y., was arrested and charged by criminal complaint with committing three bank robberies in a two month period of time. Bank robbery is punishable by a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Mary Catherine Baumgarten, who is handling the case, stated that according to the complaint, the defendant is accused of committing the following bank robberies over the course of less than 60 days:
• October 23, 2013, at Key Bank located at 2318 Delaware Avenue in Buffalo;
• December 3, 2013, at First Niagara Bank located at 529 Elmwood Avenue in Buffalo;
• December 16, 2013, at First Niagara Bank located at 801 Main Street in Niagara Falls.
The complaint further states that the three bank robberies, for which the defendant is arrested, contain similarities to a total of 22 separate bank robberies that began on April 23, 2013.
"Today's arrest demonstrates that Western New York is in no way to be confused with the Wild West of old when it comes to this type of crime,” said U.S. Attorney Hochul. “Our law enforcement partners from all branches will continue to work together seamlessly until the last culprit is captured. Those who would terrorize innocent members of the public and employees of our area’s businesses should know their days are numbered."
According to the complaint, during the 22 robberies, there were similarities in the notes passed to the tellers, including language that described an exact caliber of weapon on the bank robber’s person or threat of another weapon; threat to the safety of individuals in the bank; explicit instructions not to hand out or activate bank security devices; instructions not to make eye contact; a specific amount of money requested; and that other people were waiting outside. Other similarities include the same bank locations getting robbed multiple times, time of day the bank robbery took place, and the lack of attempt to cover up physical features of the bank robber’s person.
Mitchell was arrested on January 15, 2013 and is expected to make an initial appearance on January 16, 2014 before U.S. Magistrate Judge Jeremiah J. McCarthy. The complaint states that 11 other persons also face charges in relation to the prior bank robberies. The investigation, meanwhile, continues.
The criminal complaint is the culmination of an investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Safe Streets Task Force, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Brian P. Boetig.