August 1, 2014

Palisade Man Sentenced to Federal Prison for Attempted Armed Bank Robbery

DENVER—Jose O. Jimenez, of Palisade, Colorado, was recently sentenced by U.S. District Court Judge R. Brooke Jackson to serve 210 months (over 17 years) in federal prison for attempted armed bank robbery, United States Attorney John Walsh and FBI Denver Division Special Agent in Charge Thomas Ravenelle announced. Following his prison sentence, Jimenez was ordered to serve five years on supervised release. Jimenez was one of three people indicted for their involvement in, or knowledge of, the August 2011 attempted armed robbery of the Palisades National Bank. Jimenez pled guilty before Judge Jackson on March 20, 2014. He was sentenced by Judge Jackson on July 25, 2014.

Co-defendant Bryan Morrow, of Palisade, Colorado, pled guilty before Judge Jackson on October 8, 2013. He was sentenced by Judge Jackson on June 18, 2014 to serve 120 months (10 years) in federal prison, followed by five years on supervised release. Finally, Nicole Kozic, age 25, of San Bernardino, California, who knew that Jimenez and Morrow were involved in the attempted bank robbery, pled guilty to a Class A misdemeanor, interfering with an extradition agent before U.S. District Court Judge Robert E. Blackburn also on March 20, 2014. Kozic lied to an FBI agent who was working on locating Jimenez to extradite him to Washington State to face earlier criminal charges there. She was sentenced by Judge Blackburn to serve five years’ probation.

According to the stipulated facts in Jimenez’s plea agreement, as well as other court documents, on Saturday morning, August 20, 2011, co-defendant Bryan Morrow drove defendant Jose Jimenez from Morrow’s home in Palisade, Colorado, to the Palisades National Bank, just a few blocks away. Morrow was driving a yellow Nissan XTerra. At approximately 8:20 a.m., Morrow dropped off Jimenez near the bank and positioned himself so he could watch the outside of the bank building. He and Jimenez had two-way radios to communicate with each other. At 8:25 a.m. the Manager of the Palisades National Bank entered the bank by the side door before it opened to the public. As per his usual routine, he checked the bank for security, and then let in the two waiting tellers through the front door. He then went back to the side entrance and opened the door, with the intent to go back to his car to retrieve items. The tellers were setting up their stations. When the bank manager opened the door, he saw work boots underneath the apricot trees by the back door. He was then confronted by Jimenez, who was carrying a gun in his right hand, wearing a black hoodie covered by a reflective work vest, a camouflage mask over half his face, jeans and work boots. He ordered the manager back into the bank. When one of the tellers realized a man with a gun was in the bank, she discretely pushed the silent alarm.

Jimenez ordered the bank manager to call the tellers to his location. He ordered the tellers to kneel, and place their hands on the wall. A third teller arrived and knocked on the door, and Jimenez ordered that she be let in. She joined the other two tellers kneeling at the wall. Jimenez went through her purse and pulled out her car keys. He asked that teller what kind of car she drove, and she responded that she drove a white mini-van.

Jimenez ultimately got the bank manager and a teller to open the bank’s vault. He ordered a teller to spread the money out on the counter to ensure it contained no dye packs. The tellers then put the money into a backpack Jimenez had found behind the counter in the bank and had emptied. The backpack belonged to a teller. Jimenez had a two-way radio, with which he spoke to Morrow. Morrow told Jimenez that someone was coming. Jimenez cocked the weapon and took the manager to the front door while the tellers continued with the money. A Palisade Police Officer arrived at the front door and knocked. Jimenez told the manager to meet the police officer. The bank door was opened, and the officer asked, “Is everything ok?” The manager discretely shook his head “no” and the officer saw Jimenez. Jimenez ordered the officer onto the floor and touched the muzzle of his gun to the officer’s head. Jimenez then obtained the officer’s weapon. The officer’s radio was on, and dispatch was requesting a status check. Jimenez told him to tell dispatch everything was fine, which he did.

When Jimenez went to check on the tellers’ progress, the officer leapt up and ran out of the bank. He immediately called for backup. Jimenez ran out of the bank after the officer. Because the bank was not yet open to the public, the door of the bank locked behind Jimenez and he could not get back into the bank after he broke off pursuit of the officer, who escaped unharmed. Jimenez, who could not access the substantial sum of money being prepared for him inside, entered the white mini-van and then met up with Morrow. Jimenez abandoned the mini-van and got into the front passenger seat of Morrow’s XTerra, and Morrow drove away from the bank.

This case was investigated by the FBI and the Palisade Police Department.

The defendants were prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Michelle Heldmyer.