SCUBA-SUITED BANK ROBBER SENTENCED TO 16 YEARS IN PRISON
Olympia Repeat Offender Tried to Swim Away from Police
CHARLES EVERETT COMA, 38, of Olympia, Washington, was sentenced today in U.S. District Court in Tacoma to 16 years in prison and five years of supervised release for Armed Bank Robbery, Brandishing a Firearm During a Crime of Violence and Assault on a Federal Officer. U.S. District Judge Franklin D. Burgess imposed the sentence in connection with the April 15, 2004, bank robbery of the Olympia branch of Key Bank on Harrison Avenue West.
According to records filed in the case, about 5 p.m. on April 15, 2004, COMA entered the bank, brandished a loaded rifle, and ordered a teller to put money in his backpack. The teller complied, and COMA ran from the bank carrying more than $6,000. Witnesses indicated the robber had run into the woods across the street from the bank. An alert Olympia police officer saw COMA run from the woods and get into a car -- which COMA had purchased in a fictitious identity -- that was parked in the lot of Olympia High School. The officer followed and, when COMA failed to stop at a stop sign, tried to pull COMA over. COMA, however, fled and crashed his car through a locked gate in an industrial area on Budd Inlet, a Puget Sound waterway.
COMA jumped from his car carrying the backpack and scuba tanks and ran toward the water. COMA threw the backpack into Puget Sound, but was tackled by police before he was able to enter the water. Police fished the backpack from the water and found the money taken from Key Bank inside the backpack. They recovered the loaded rifle that COMA had used in the robbery in COMA’s car. They also found that COMA was wearing a wetsuit under his clothes, in preparation for his planned underwater getaway.
COMA was on supervised release at the time of the 2004 robbery for a prior bank robbery conviction from 2000.
The case was investigated by the FBI and Olympia Police Department. The case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Andrew C. Friedman.
For additional information please contact Emily Langlie, Public Affairs Officer for the United States Attorney’s Office, at (206) 553-4110.