Trial date nears for alleged North Bend bank robber

The man accused of robbing a North Bend bank last autumn goes to trial Sept. 1.

Warren M. Richardson, 59, faces two counts of first degree bank robbery in King County Superior Court. Prosecutors say Richardson was the man who held up the Sterling Savings Bank in North Bend and the Frontier Bank in Seattle's Ballard neighborhood last November. He pled innocent to the charges in a December 2009 arraignment.

Richardson is currently in custody at King County Jail.

In a statement to King County prosecutors, Sheriff's Det. Mike Mellis related how the robber approached a North Bend bank teller on the afternoon of Friday, Nov. 6, announcing, "I'm here to rob you." As the teller slowly gathered cash, the man told her, 'Don't make me pull my gun out."

When the cash was laid on the counter, the man scooped it up and fled on foot. Bank employees determined that the robber made off with less than $400. No weapon was seen.

Three days later, detectives believe that the same man entered the Ballard branch of Frontier Bank in Seattle. The robber asked for all the money on hand, collecting just under $2,000 as well as a security dye pack, which exploded as he fled.

Both banks provided investigators with video or still pictures of the suspect, and each teller gave the same description: a Caucasian man in his 50s with the same body build and long, gray hair.

When the photos were made public, deputies were contacted by several citizens, one of whom identified Richardson. On Wednesday, Nov. 16, deputies learned that Richardson was at Seattle's Harborview Medical Center for a medical matter. He was contacted by detectives in his hospital room, questioned and later taken into custody.

Agents with the Federal Bureau of Investigation raided an apartment in the 100 block of North Bend Way last November while investigating the case. Witnesses saw federal agents remove at least one bag of materials as evidence from the scene.

According to prosecutors, Richardson has four prior convictions from bank robberies in 2001.

His bail is set at $250,000; conditions of release also state that he is to have no contact with several employees at those banks.

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