Originally Published: September 5, 2011 9:57 p.m.
A man charged with robbing the Wells Fargo Bank in Prescott on Dec. 8, 2010, plead guilty to four counts of armed bank robbery and two counts of bank robbery this past week in U.S. District Court in Phoenix.
Russell James Dean, 51, of Lincoln, Calif., was charged with robbing banks in Prescott, Flagstaff, Surprise and Phoenix between Oct. 22 and Dec. 11, 2010, and stealing a total of $42,391.
Dean also was charged in a bank robbery in Chico, Calif., on July 13, 2010, stealing $2,154.
The suspect was called the "Skeletor Bandit" because in the first four robberies in Flagstaff and Surprise he wore a Halloween-style rubber mask of an old man that some thought resembled the 1980s "He-Man" cartoon character Skeletor, along with a black hooded sweatshirt, said Manny Tarango, spokesman for the U.S. Attorney Dennis K. Burke of the District of Arizona.
Dean also allegedly displayed a gun in those robberies, Tarango said.
As part of the plea agreement filed Aug. 31, Dean faces a federal prison sentence of eight to 11 years, must pay restitution to victims of as much as $100,000, and could possibly receive a reduction of one to two levels in his sentencing guidelines if certain conditions are met.
Dean's sentencing is scheduled for Monday, Jan. 9, in U.S. District Court in Phoenix before U.S. District Judge Frederick Martone.
Shortly before 1:30 p.m. on Dec. 8, Dean walked into the Wells Fargo Bank at 825 Miller Valley Road in Prescott, told tellers it was a robbery, demanded cash, and then fled the bank on foot with money that was later recovered, said Lt. Andy Reinhardt, Prescott Police Department spokesman.
Dean wrote in the plea agreement that he entered the Wells Fargo Bank on Miller Valley Road in Prescott wearing a grey hooded sweatshirt, sunglasses, fake beard, wig, baseball cap, and a bandage on his nose.
Dean wrote that he rushed up to a male teller, told him this is a "... robbery" and to give him hundreds, fifties and twenties out of the top drawer, according to the plea agreement. As the teller began to give Dean money, Dean wrote that he told the teller that he had a gun and lifted the bottom of his sweatshirt, but because of the height of the counter the teller couldn't see if he had a gun. Dean wrote that he demanded money from the teller's bottom drawer and received it, then moved to a female teller's station and demanded fifties and hundreds, but she told him she did not have any and he fled the bank on foot, according to the plea agreement.
An audit later determined that Dean had stolen $3,219 in federally insured currency from the bank. Prescott police detectives worked in conjunction with the FBI Task Force and Flagstaff and Surprise police departments to identify Dean, who was linked to six bank robberies throughout the state, Reinhardt said.
Dean also robbed the AmTrust Bank in the 14500 block of West Grand Avenue in Surprise twice, and threatened the same teller in both the October and December robberies, according to the plea agreement.
Phoenix police officers arrested Dean on Saturday, Dec. 11, 2010, in connection with a bank robbery at a Bank of America near 50th Avenue and Baseline Road in Phoenix.
Phoenix police officers stopped Dean a short time later after using a tracking device, and found the pellet gun that matched the description of the gun used during the robbery, according to the plea agreement.
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