ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

Arizona man pleads guilty to northern North Dakota bank robbery charges

BISMARCK -- An Arizona man pleaded guilty Tuesday in federal court in Bismarck to charges that he robbed banks in Stanley and Minot in August. Gary Wayne Thomas, 59, entered his pleas before U.S. District Court Judge Daniel Hovland. Hovland advis...

BISMARCK -- An Arizona man pleaded guilty Tuesday in federal court in Bismarck to charges that he robbed banks in Stanley and Minot in August.

Gary Wayne Thomas, 59, entered his pleas before U.S. District Court Judge Daniel Hovland. Hovland advised Thomas, who previously had three prior bank robbery convictions out of Maricopa County, Arizona, that he faces a likely sentencing range of 46 to 71 years, depending on how the U.S. Probation Office rates his criminal history.

Each charge carries a maximum possible sentence of 20 years in prison.

On the morning of Aug. 15, Thomas, a truck driver by trade, robbed the BNC National Bank in Stanley. He told Hovland that he walked in and "asked them to empty their drawer and put it in the little bag I had."

ADVERTISEMENT

Then, that afternoon, Thomas said he walked into a Dacotah Bank in Minot and did the same thing.

Thomas said he never used a weapon and never made a direct threat of violence.

Thomas walked away with $10,911 in total, none of which has been recovered, according to Assistant U.S. Attorney David Hagler, who said authorities were able to locate Thomas shortly after the robberies due to the "distinctive shirt" he wore during the robberies, along with a baseball cap and a bandanna.

A Cenex gas station security camera later captured Thomas, wearing the same shirt, and the license plate for the pickup he was driving.

"So why the fascination with robbing banks?" Hovland asked Thomas on Tuesday.

"I just got myself deep in debt," Thomas replied, calling it a combination of less work due to the slowdown in oil production, expenses related to the truck he purchased for work and a $45,000 emergency stomach surgery that he had to pay for with no health insurance.

Hovland accepted the guilty plea on Tuesday despite receiving a letter written by a Stanley BNC National Bank employee urging the judge not to accept a deal.

The judge ordered the completion of a pre-sentence investigation and set sentencing for Feb. 17.

ADVERTISEMENT

Thomas has been in custody since his arrest in September.

Related Topics: BISMARCK
What To Read Next
With HB 1205, Reps Mike Lefor and Vicky Steiner would prohibit "sexually explicit content" in public libraries. Facing an uphill battle, the pair remain united in their commitment to see it passed.
The North Dakota Highway Patrol is investigating the crash.
City accountant reports increases in oil impact, sales tax, hospitality tax and occupancy tax revenue during the Jan. 24 meeting, commission approves two policy amendments.
Testimony to the top House committee from a convicted attendee of the Jan. 6 rally focused on the "inhumane" treatment of Jan. 6 defendants. The committee rejected a resolution on the matter 12-0.