News and Press Releases

Defendant Robbed his 6th Bank, Ten days after Release From Prison

May 18, 2009

JAMES R. KNOX, 52, of Allyn, Washington was sentenced today to 14 years in prison and three years of supervised release for Bank Robbery. KNOX was found to be a career offender because of his criminal history which increased his prison term. KNOX pleaded guilty to the October 30, 2008, robbery of a Kitsap Bank branch in Gig Harbor, Washington. At sentencing today U.S. District Judge Benjamin H. Settle found KNOX qualified as a career offender saying, “The public needs to be protected from you. When you are out of custody, you’re a danger.”

According to records filed in the case, KNOX had just been released from prison for earlier bank robbery sprees when he walked into the Kitsap Bank branch wearing a ski mask and bicycle helmet. He approached the teller window, announced it was a robbery and ordered the teller to open the cash drawer. When he thought the teller was taking too long, KNOX put his hand in his pocket and gestured as if he had a gun. He made the same motion when demanding a second teller open a second cash drawer. From that drawer KNOX took cash, but also unbeknownst to him, a tracking device.

KNOX ran from the bank and then bicycled to his get-away car. Police were able to follow him because of the tracking device. KNOX led them on a high speed chase from Gig Harbor to Tacoma before abandoning his car near Interstate 5 and the Puyallup River. KNOX was found hiding in some brush – the money taken in the robbery was all recovered.

Assistant United States Attorney Kurt Hermanns asked that KNOX be found a career offender because of his unrelenting criminal history including convictions for multiple burglaries, possession of stolen property and escape. “This was a significant crime involving threats of harm to bank employees and ended only after a high speed chase placing both the police and the public at risk,” Mr. Hermanns wrote in his sentencing memo. “In fact, this case was the sixth time this defendant robbed a bank, the second time he robbed this particular bank, and he had been released from prison only 10 days when this robbery occurred.”

The case was investigated by the FBI and the Gig Harbor Police Department. The chase and arrest also involved the Washington State Patrol, Kitsap Sheriff’s Department, Pierce County Sheriff’s Department and the Tacoma Police Department.

The case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Kurt Hermanns, and Special Assistant United States Attorney Diane Clarkson. Ms. Clarkson is a Deputy Pierce County Prosecutor specially designated to prosecute gun and drug crimes in federal court.

For additional information please contact Emily Langlie, Public Affairs Officer for the United States Attorney’s Office, at (206) 553-4110 or Emily.Langlie@USDOJ.Gov.

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