News and Press Releases

"Bucket List Bandit" Pleads Guilty to Robbing 11 Banks in 10 States

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 13, 2013

ERIE, Pa. - A former resident of Pensacola, Fla., who came to be known as the "Bucket List Bandit", pleaded guilty in federal court in Erie, Pa., to charges of bank robbery, United States Attorney David J. Hickton announced today.

Michael Eugene Brewster, 54, pleaded guilty to 11 counts before United States District Judge Sean J. McLaughlin. Brewster pled guilty to one count of bank robbery alleged in an indictment filed in the Western District of Pennsylvania for a bank robbery occurring on Sept. 10, 2012. Brewster also waived indictment and pled guilty to bank robbery charges filed in an Information in the Western District of Pennsylvania, alleging 10 other bank robberies occurring in: Arvada, Colo., on June 21, 2012; Flagstaff, Ariz., on June 27, 2012; Pocatello, Idaho, on July 6, 2012; Roy, Utah, on July 6, 2012; Winston-Salem, N.C., on July 20, 1012; Altamonte Springs, Fla., on July 27, 2012; Chattanooga, Tenn., on Aug. 3, 2012; Bloomington, Ill., on Aug. 17, 2012; Colombia, Mo., on Aug. 29, 2012; and O'Fallon, Mo., on Aug. 30, 2012.

In connection with the guilty plea, the court was advised that between June 21, 2012, and Sept. 10, 2012, Brewster robbed 11 banks across the nation. In the course of the bank robbery spree Brewster used a similar method of operation and entered each bank, without being disguised, wore similar clothes, carried a dark leather notebook, presented demand notes containing similar threatening language to each of the victim tellers, and left the scene driving a 2009 black SUV, which Brewster had stolen in Pensacola, Fla. In his last bank robbery in Erie, Penn., on Sept. 10, 2012, Brewster entered the Huntington National Bank, located at 2185 West 12th Street and presented a demand note, claiming that he had a gun and that the teller had one minute to comply. Brewster then claimed to the teller that he had cancer and did not care what happened. Brewster obtained bank proceeds and fled the area in a black SUV. Bank surveillance images and images from area surveillance cameras clearly depicted Brewster and the vehicle he used. Comparing the Erie Huntington Bank surveillance photographs with those from the 10 other bank robberies that had occurred throughout the United States confirmed that each robbery had been committed by the same person. On Sept. 12, 2012, the FBI received a tip that the bank robber depicted in the surveillance photographs was Brewster. A review of Brewster's Florida driver's license confirmed Brewster's identity as the bank robber. In addition, evidence disclosed that an arrest warrant had been issued for Brewster alleging that he had stolen a black Chevy Captiva SUV in Pensacola, Fla., on June 11, 2012. Once Brewster's identity had been established in the Erie robbery, the FBI and law enforcement partners in the jurisdictions of the other 10 bank robberies confirmed his identity in those cases as well.

According to the information provided to the court about the 10 other bank robberies, Brewster entered the Chase Bank at 5250 Wadsworth Boulevard in Arvada, Colo., on June 21, 2012, the Chase Bank at 1484 South Milton Road in Flagstaff, Ariz., on June 27, 2012; and the Ireland Bank at 486 Yellowstone Avenue in Pocatello, Idaho, on July 6, 2012, and obtained federally insured funds after presented a threatening note demanding money. In Roy, Utah, on July 6, 2012, Brewster entered the Wells Fargo Bank located at 5603 South 1900 West, and obtained money after presenting a threatening demand note claiming that he had only four months to live. In Winston- Salem, N.C., on July 20, 1012, Brewster entered a Bank of America at 1209 Silas Creek Parkway and presented a threatening demand note indicating that he had nothing to lose and threatening to come back after the teller if any silent alarm was activated. Brewster obtained no money from the Wells Fargo Bank. Then, at the Regions Bank at 360 West State Road 436 in Altamonte Springs, Fla., on July 27, 2012, the BB&T bank at 2120 Gunbarrel Road in Chattanooga, Tenn., on Aug. 3, 2012; the PNC bank at 2217 West Market Street in Bloomington, Ill., on Aug. 17, 2012; the Landmark Bank at 202 North Stadium Boulevard in Colombia, Mo., on Aug. 29, 2012; and the Lindell Bank at 4521 Highway K in O'Fallon, Mo., on Aug. 30, 2012, Brewster obtained money after presenting threatening demand notes, including a claim that he was armed with a gun.

Finally, according to information presented to the court, on Sept. 13, 2012, a police officer with the Roland Police Department in Roland, Okla., conducted a traffic stop of a black, 2009, Chevy Captiva vehicle and identified Brewster as the driver and sole occupant. A fake Utah license plate had been affixed to the vehicle. A computer check of Brewster's name revealed Brewster's outstanding arrest warrant in Pensacola, Fla., for allegedly stealing the Chevy Captiva vehicle. Brewster was then taken into custody and was found to be in possession of money from the Erie, Penn., Huntington Bank robbery. Among other items located in the Captiva vehicle was a handgun, money from the Huntington Bank robbery, the clothing worn by Brewster in the bank robberies as depicted in the surveillance photographs, and the leather notebook carried by Brewster into the banks he robbed. Brewster was then arrested on the Erie, Penn., arrest warrant and he was returned to the Western District of Pennsylvania to face federal prosecution.

Judge McLaughlin scheduled sentencing for Aug. 12, 2013, at 10:00 a.m. The law provides for a total sentence of 220 years in prison, a fine of $2,750,000, or both. Under the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, the actual sentence imposed is based upon the seriousness of the offenses and the criminal history, if any, of the defendant.

Assistant United States Attorney Marshall J. Piccinini is prosecuting this case on behalf of the government.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation in each of the jurisdictions, the Erie Bureau of Police, the Arvada Police Department, the Flagstaff Police Department, the Pocatello Police Department, the Roy City Police Department, the Winston-Salem Police Department, the Altamonte Springs Police Department, the Chattanooga Police Department, the Bloomington Police Department, the Columbia Police Department, the O'Fallon Police Department and the Roland Police Department conducted the investigation that led to the prosecution of Brewster.

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