Lengthy investigation nets arrest of man accused in multiple bank robberies in Ann Arbor area
Photo courtesy Ann Arbor police
Investigators in California arrested a 40-year-old Los Angeles man suspected of being involved in at least eight bank robberies in Washtenaw County over a period spanning more than a year.
Saline police Detective Don Lupi said Charles Anthony Williams was arrested Thursday by a fugitive task force in Los Angeles. Lupi said Williams was a part of a group that committed a string of bank robberies throughout the United States.
A local task force consisting of the Saline Police Department, Ann Arbor Police Department, Pittsfield Township Department of Public Safety, Jackson Police Department, Washtenaw County Sheriff’s Office, Michigan State Police and Federal Bureau of Investigation contributed to the investigation that resulted in Williams’ arrest. Lupi said evidence from the May 25, 2012, robbery at a TCF Bank in Saline played a large role in the case.
Lupi said the work among all the investigating agencies was the biggest reason why Williams could be taken into custody.
“It’s nice when a department of our size that doesn’t have the resources has other, larger departments with resource step up and help,” Lupi said.
Police said Williams and his group of robbers pulled off heists in an area stretching from Jackson to parts of Ohio. Ann Arbor police said the group had robbed Flagstar Bank, 2001 Commonwealth Blvd. on June 30, 2012, and Comerica Bank, 3305 Washtenaw Avenue, Dec. 24, 2011.
Other banks believed to have been robbed by Williams and his group include: a Citizens Bank in Jackson on March 29, 2012; the America 1 Credit Union in Jackson on Dec. 21, 2011; Bank of America at 2250 W. Michigan Ave. in Ypsilanti Township on Aug. 15, 2011 and the PNC Bank at 3175 West Clark Road in Ypsilanti Township on June 24, 2011.
In many of the incidents, the suspects robbing the banks pulled out guns, or implied they had weapons, and simply jumped over the counters to commit brazen thefts. Security camera images released by investigators in the various cases show the suspects in masks, similar to ones worn by the character Jason in the Friday The 13th movie franchise.
The police agencies in Los Angeles that took Williams into custody weren’t immediately known Monday afternoon.
Ann Arbor police Detective Bill Stanford, one of the Ann Arbor representatives on the task force, said Williams and other people involved can expect to be charged by United States attorneys.
“The case has been turned over to the FBI for prosecution on federal charges,” Stanford said.
Sgt. Geoffrey Fox, of the Washtenaw County Sheriff's Office, declined to comment on the case Monday because the detective working on the case was out of the office for vacation.
Lupi said Williams has an extensive criminal history and was a suspect in bank robberies across the nation.
Other people are suspected of working with Williams to rob banks, Lupi said. How many other suspects there are is not clear. The investigation is still open and more information regarding the case wasn’t available Monday.
Lupi praised all of the investigators who worked on the case and said Williams’ arrest is a just reward for all of the work they put in.
“We are very happy with all of the agencies’ assistance,” Lupi said. “It helps put closure on a lot of hard work by a lot of people.”