A gang of bank robbers from Los Angeles rode the bus to and from the Puget Sound area to hold up local banks and shuttle thousands of dollars back home, Pierce County prosecutors allege.
Seven people have been charged in a scheme that prosecutors say netted the group more than $75,000 and targeted banks in Lakewood, Kirkland, Seattle, Michigan and Ohio.
The first arrests were made Dec. 22 at the Greyhound bus depot in Olympia after the FBI South Sound Gang Task Force conducted surveillance at the station and spotted four suspects buying departure tickets.
Prosecutors said agents found more than $10,000 on Kevin Brown, 38; Curtis Smith Jr., 22; and Douglas Smith, 26, all of Los Angeles. The men had little to say they claimed not to know each other and Douglas Smith insisted hed found the money on the side of the road.
Also arrested were Anthony Mosley, 45, a Spanaway man believed to have organized the robberies; and Browns wife, Jeanine Daniels, 37, who had an outstanding federal warrant for an unrelated bank robbery.
Also charged in the case are Charles Williams, 39, and Janalisa Estrada, 33. They have yet to be arraigned and are not in custody in Pierce County.
All the defendants except Estrada and Williams have pleaded not guilty to the charges.
The first robbery occurred Sept. 6 when three men in masks and gloves entered a U.S. Bank branch in Lakewood, 9310 Bridgeport Way Southwest. One stood guard at the front door, one took money from the vault and one demanded money from the tellers, according to charging documents.
The holdup was over within 75 seconds.
The robbers fled in a stolen Buick driven by a fourth man to an alley elsewhere in the city. A woman told prosecutors she watched four men run from the car into a waiting SUV that sped off with the doors still open.
Prosecutors allege the gang also held up a Seattle bank Oct. 22 and a Kirkland bank Dec. 20, forcing customers and employees to the ground while they stole cash.
Investigators got two breaks in the case during recent months.
Surveillance photographs from Lakewood and Kirkland matched, showing distinctive similarities in one of the robbers shoes. The second break came from a federal informant who claimed Mosley was organizing bank robberies in the Puget Sound area.
Mosley seemed to fit the bill for the area robberies. He was convicted in 1998 of bank robbery and sentenced to 12 years, 7 months in federal prison. His co-defendant said they would rent a car, drive a stolen car to the bank, gather money while forcing customers and employees to the ground and quickly swap the stolen car for the rental car.
"The co-defendant told the FBI that he and Mosley and others had done several bank robberies in the Puget Sound area," according to court documents.
After the Dec. 20 robbery, law enforcement officers distributed fliers to Greyhound bus employees and asked them to keep an eye out. Four suspects were arrested trying to buy tickets out of Olympia two days later. Mosley, who prosecutors said had driven them to the bus station, was arrested that day.
Mosleys wife told police her husband had friends visiting from Los Angeles around the time of each of the robberies and admitted to renting cars at his request, court documents show. She has not been charged in the case.
Prosecutors allege Estrada drove the defendants away in a rented SUV after the Lakewood bank robbery. She also is believed to have rented a car before two bank robberies in Michigan. The informant told police Williams was involved in the Washington bank robberies. His DNA links to him to holdups in Michigan and Ohio during May and August.
Stacia Glenn: 253-597-8653