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Originally published April 23, 2014 at 8:38 PM | Page modified April 23, 2014 at 9:35 PM

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Charges due against alleged mastermind of bank-robbery ring

The alleged mastermind of a bank-robbery ring that included a trio of teenage boys was ordered held on $750,000 bail Wednesday, two days after he is accused of taking a taxi to rip off a U.S. Bank in Des Moines — a move that apparently ended a three-month robbery spree in three counties.


Seattle Times staff reporter

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The accused mastermind of a bank-robbery ring that allegedly included a trio of teenage boys was ordered held on $750,000 bail Wednesday, two days after police say he took a taxicab to rip off a Des Moines bank.

King County prosecutors expect to file formal robbery charges against Robert Cal Adams III on Thursday, said Ian Goodhew, deputy chief of staff to Prosecutor Dan Satterberg.

The 31-year-old man already has been charged in connection with a bank robbery in Pierce County, and his alleged accomplices have been caught and charged, jail and court records show.

Even if Adams were to make bail, he would not be released because he also is being held on a no-bail warrant issued in January after he violated his community custody on a first-degree robbery charge out of Spokane County, jail and court records show.

Goodhew said his office is coordinating with Pierce County prosecutors, since a number of bank robberies allegedly committed by Adams and his co-defendants took place in Tacoma, Lakewood and Puyallup. Additional charges are expected, he said.

In all, Adams is believed to be involved in 16 bank robberies in King, Pierce and Spokane counties between March 3 and Monday, as well as an armed robbery at a Subway restaurant in Kent in March and the theft of bags worth $2,400 from the Coach Outlet store in Auburn, according to the probable-cause statement outlining the police case against him.

He was identified by fingerprints left on a note passed to a teller during one robbery, as well as fingerprints left on the counter of another bank, according to the probable-cause statement.

Adams was also identified by his sisters and co-defendants from bank-surveillance photos and his state Department of Corrections photo, the statement says.

Adams is believed to be the “Rabid Fan Bandit,” so named by the FBI in Seattle because he was captured by bank-surveillance cameras wearing hats bearing the logos of sports teams, including the Seattle Seahawks, during various robberies, said FBI spokeswoman Ayn Sandalo Dietrich.

He is also the suspected mastermind behind the so-called “Buddy Bandits,” a cadre of accomplices — two men and boys aged 14, 15 and 16 — he allegedly coached to commit bank robberies while he waited in a getaway car, according to Dietrich and court records.

All but two of the bank robberies were at branches inside grocery stores, Dietrich said.

In all of the robberies, Adams or one of his accomplices allegedly passed a note to a teller demanding a specific amount of money and was given cash before fleeing, court records say.

In one of the Buddy Bandit robberies, two robbers simultaneously went to tellers with notes demanding cash, according to the records.

Adams allegedly took a cab from the Garden Suites hotel in Des Moines to a Safeway store on Pacific Highway South on Monday, asked the driver to wait, robbed the U.S. Bank branch inside, then took the taxi back to the hotel, the statement says.

An Auburn police detective — who was already investigating Adams in connection with other robberies — heard the robbery call over his police radio and responded.

He worked with Des Moines police to arrest Adams when he left his hotel room, according to the statement.

Though the total take from all the alleged robberies is unknown, just over $29,000 was taken in 11 of them, the statement says.

Pierce County prosecutors have already charged Adams and two others — Vincent Thompson, 31, and Jeffrey Black Jr., 27 — with an April 7 robbery at a U.S. Bank branch in Tacoma, said Heather Songer, a spokeswoman for Prosecutor Mark Lindquist.

She said the 15-year-old boy has been charged in connection with that robbery, as well as another bank robbery outside Spanaway attributed to the Buddy Bandits.

The 15-year-old, who is Thompson’s stepson, and the 14-year-old were identified by police and arrested April 12 in Federal Way, according to charging documents.

Both have been charged in King County with two counts of first-degree robbery in connection with bank robberies committed in a one-hour span on April 9 in Renton and Kent, the charges say.

The Seattle Times is not naming the 14- and 15-year-olds because they have been charged as juveniles. But Goodhew said Wednesday that King County prosecutors are considering asking a judge to have them charged as adults.

The 15-year-old was identified after a woman, who had seen a photo of the boy on TV, called police and said he looked like a boy she used to drive to football practice with her son, charging papers say.

King County prosecutors Monday charged Thompson and Kaution Starling — who is 16 but was charged as an adult — with first-degree robbery in the theft of $3,302 from a Bank of America branch in Federal Way on April 11.

Starling, the cousin of the 15-year-old suspect, was arrested April 14 at Federal Way High School, charging papers say.

Thompson was arrested at his home in Spanaway on April 16, charging papers say. He remains in custody in the Pierce County Jail in lieu of $1 million bail, jail records show.

Black is a Level 1 sex offender who was charged in July with failing to register as a sex offender, court records show.

After Black served five months in jail, a no-bail warrant was issued for his arrest in January after he failed to report to a community-corrections alternative program, court records say. He is in custody at the Maleng Regional Justice Center in Kent, serving a 112-day sentence on that charge, according to Goodhew and court records.

Sara Jean Green: 206-515-5654 or sgreen@seattletimes.com



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