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83-year-old convicted robber back behind bars in new series of bank heists

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(NEW YORK) — An 83-year-old man imprisoned for more than three decades for a string of 1980s bank robberies is back behind bars, according to federal officials.


Donald “Doc” Bennett, once dubbed by the FBI as the “leaping bandit” for jumping over counters in his younger days during bank robberies, was arrested hours after allegedly holding up Chase bank in Hickory Hills, Illinois, on Valentine’s Day with an accomplice identified as 55-year-old Edward Binert, according to a federal criminal complaint filed against the pair.

Both Bennett of Campbellsville, Kentucky, and Binert of Oak Lawn, Illinois, are both charged with armed robbery. The men are expected to appear at a detention hearing in U.S. District Court in Chicago on Thursday.

Bennett was released from prison in 2020 having served 31 years of a 50-year sentence after being convicted in 1989 of multiple bank robberies committed in the Chicago area, according to the FBI.

Following his arrest, Binert reportedly confessed to FBI investigators in a video-recorded interview that he was involved in the Feb. 14 robbery of the Chase branch in Hickory Hill, according to the criminal complaint.

Binert told investigators that he first met Bennett in 2006 while they were both serving time in a federal penitentiary in Michigan, according to the complaint.

Binert and Bennett were both arrested at Binert’s home in Oak Lawn, Illinois, where investigators seized evidence linking the men to the robbery, including weapons, a brown wig, two sets of Illinois license plates and a stack of shrink-wrapped U.S. currency believed to be loot from one of the holdups, according to the complaint. Nearly $7,000 was taken in the Valentine’s Day robbery, according to the complaint.

The FBI suspects Bennett was involved in at least seven bank robberies that have occurred in the Chicago suburbs since June 27, when a bandit got away with $11,400 from a Chase bank in Oak Lawn, the complaint alleges.

“Based on my personal involvement in this investigation, including my review of police reports and other evidence, I know that six of the seven bank robberies have the following similarities: the robber was a single older white male wearing a face covering, who brandished a handgun; the robber demanded bank funds from a teller; and a rental vehicle was used as the getaway vehicle,” FBI special agent Cassandra Johnson wrote in the complaint.

Among the other robberies Bennett is suspected of committing was one that occurred on Aug. 25 at a different Chase bank in Oak Lawn in which $30,886 was taken.

Investigators managed to identify both Bennett and Binert as suspects because they used their real names and identification to rent getaway cars used in the robberies, including the Valentine’s Day heist, according to the complaint.

Bennett’s arrest comes about a month after 71-year-old bank robbery suspect Bruce Edward Bell, who had spent 40 years in federal prison for a series of bank robberies, was nabbed on suspicion of holding up a bank in Sun Valley, California, according to police. Bell had been released from prison in July 2021.

The nation’s oldest convicted bank robber is J.L. Hunter “Red” Rountree, who pleaded guilty to robbing an Abilene, Texas, bank in August 2003 at the age of 91. Roundtree was sentence to 151 months in prison and died in October 2004 at the U.S. Medical Center for Federal Prisoners in Springfield, Missouri.

 

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