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March 11, 2010

HOUSTON JURY CONVICTS FORMER CONROE POLICE OFFICER OF BANK ROBBERY

(HOUSTON) – A federal jury has convicted a 22-year veteran of the Conroe Police Department for robbing the First Bank of Conroe, United States Attorney José Angel Moreno announced today. The verdict was announced today in open court after four weeks of trial and three hours of deliberation. 

Michael Edward Tindall, 48, of Conroe, Texas, a 22-year veteran of the Conroe Police Department, was convicted of one count of bank robbery, 18 U.S.C. 2113(a), for robbing the First Bank of Conroe on Aug. 11, 2008. United States District Judge Melinda Harmon, who presided over the four-week trial, revoked Tindall’s bond immediately following the return of the verdict and ordered Tindall into the custody of the United States Marshals Service pending sentencing. 

On Aug. 11, 2008, a male wearing a white motorcycle helmet covering his face entered and robbed the First Bank of Conroe of approximately $28,000. During the trial, the jury heard that upon entering the bank the robber yelled to the tellers, “BOTTOM DRAWERS,” a term known and understood by bank insiders. That statement lead a victim teller to advise agents and officers investigating the robbery that the voice of the robber sounded similar to the voice of Tindall, a police officer who had worked security at the bank for 19 years. Further investigation by the FBI and review of the bank robbery video lead to Tindall as a suspect in the case. The jury heard  from co-workers, friends and family members who identified Tindall as the robber through mannerisms, gait and clothing even though he was wearing a motorcycle helmet at the time of the robbery.  The helmet worn by the robber was identified by Conroe Police Officers as similar to one worn by Tindall during the Conroe Kidz Fest. After an extensive FBI investigation, Tindall was arrested on March 24, 2009. 

During trial, the jury heard about the FBI’s investigation leading to the arrest of Tindall. Testimony at trial established that prior to the bank robbery, Tindall experienced personal financial distress evidenced by overdrafts, extensive credit card debt and potential utility interruptions. The jury heard extensive testimony about Tindall’s purchases and unexplained influx of cash deposits made to his bank account on the day of the robbery and in the following weeks. 

The jury also heard that Tindall had surreptitiously used his police radio to monitor police activity before, during and after the bank robbery. Tindall also used his police vehicle to locate and steal license plates from what was thought to be an abandoned truck. Recorded GPS evidence showed Tindall’s police vehicle in the location of the abandoned truck two days before the robbery. The license plates from the abandoned truck were partially seen by a bank teller while she pursued the bank robber and were put on a rental car to deceive the eyewitnesses. Eventually, based upon a description of the car as seen on video, the car was traced to Enterprise Leasing in Conroe, Texas. Records from Enterprise proved Tindall had rented a car similar to that seen in the video of the bank robbery. Tindall returned the vehicle to Enterprise approximately 20 minutes after the robbery.

On the day of Tindall’s arrest, FBI agents searched his residence which included Tindall’s detached garage. There, FBI agents found a white motorcycle helmet that appeared to match the motorcycle helmet seen in the bank robbery video. During trial, the jury heard testimony from an imaging analysis scientist for NASA who examines the Space Shuttle for “anomalies” during orbit before reentry. The expert identified two unique marks on the robber’s helmet in the video. He told the jury, that the markings on the helmet in the video were “highly correlated” to the helmet seized from Tindall’s garage on the day of his arrest.

Tindall faces a up to 20 years imprisonment and a $250,000 fine at sentencing. Judge Melinda Harmon has set sentencing for June 25, 2010.

The investigation leading to the charges was conducted by the FBI and the Conroe Police Department. Assistant United States Attorneys Kebharu H. Smith and Joe Porto tried the case.

 

 

 

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