News and Press Releases


March 23, 2005

IVY BIRD GAINES, 40 of Auburn, Washington was convicted late yesterday in U.S. District Court in Seattle of eighteen felony counts related to a string of armed robberies attributed to the "Pillowcase Robber." GAINES robbed ten banks, credit unions, and check cashing businesses from Seattle to Lacey between June 7, 2002 and October 17, 2003. GAINES was arrested within hours of the last bank robbery in Auburn, Washington. Police found a gun, a pillowcase containing $15,000 and a demand note in GAINES' vehicle. A teller at the bank had noted the license plate of the getaway car leading to surveillance of GAINES and ultimately his arrest.

Evidence presented at trial revealed that GAINES had made major expenditures or paid off debts following a number of the robberies. Items of clothing associated with many of the robberies and one other demand note were found at GAINES' home. The search also revealed a pillowcase, pants, hat and money that had been stained red from an exploding dye pack placed with the money at one of the bank robberies. The tellers at each bank or business identified GAINES as the man who robbed them. In one robbery, just days after Christmas, the tellers' two young daughters were at the bank to take ornaments off the Christmas tree when GAINES burst in and held the women and children at gunpoint.

Testifying in his own defense, GAINES stated that he had lent his car to a man named "Fat Joe" and that Joe and an accomplice must have robbed the banks. No evidence of the existence of "Fat Joe" was ever uncovered. After a six day trial the jury deliberated just over an hour before finding GAINES guilty on all charges.

GAINES faces a mandatory minimum sentence of 182 years in prison for his convictions on ten counts of Robbery and eight counts of Brandishing a Weapon in Furtherance of a Crime of Violence. Judge Thomas S. Zilly will sentence GAINES on June 3, 2005.

The case was investigated by the FBI's Violent Crimes Task Force with a lead detective from the Seattle Police Department. The Auburn Police Department and Kent Police Department assisted in the arrest.

Assistant United States Attorneys Andrew Friedman and Tessa Gorman prosecuted the case. For additional information please contact Emily Langlie, Public Affairs Officer for the United States Attorney's Office, Western District of Washington at (206) 553-4110.

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