Hollister Man Pleads Guilty to Armed Bank Robbery
SPRINGFIELD, MO—Tammy Dickinson, United States Attorney for the Western District of Missouri, announced that a Hollister, Mo., man pleaded guilty in federal court today to the armed robbery of Central Bank in Branson, Mo.
Joseph E. Cyrus, 76, of Hollister, pleaded guilty before U.S. Magistrate Judge David P. Rush to stealing $30,946 from Central Bank, 1115 James Epps Road in Branson on Oct. 16, 2015.
According to court documents, Cyrus entered the bank at approximately 9 a.m. and was wearing a blue ski mask and rubber gloves. He was carrying a black semi-automatic pistol. Cyrus approached the teller counter, pointed the pistol at the tellers, and said, “This is a robbery.”
Cyrus demanded that all of the bank’s employees who were positioned behind the teller counter come out where he could see them. He demanded that the tellers give him cash from their teller drawers, and at one point told one of the tellers that he would shoot her in the knee.
Cyrus handed one of the bank employees a blue reusable shopping bag and they put the cash in the bag. Cyrus ordered the employees and customers in the lobby to get down on the ground, then he left the bank and walked to a white Ford Ranger pickup truck that was parked in the parking lot across the street from the bank.
Surveillance photos depict the truck with an unknown state’s license plate, which had been attached to the vehicle backwards (with the face of the plate against the truck’s bumper). Four of the six numbers/letters were clearly visible. Branson police dispatchers broadcast the description of the robber and the vehicle to area law enforcement agencies. An off-duty Branson police officer heard the description of the truck and recalled having seen a similar vehicle parked near the Yacht Club Mobile Home Park in Hollister. The officer was familiar with the truck because it had a “for sale” sign in it and he previously called the listed phone number to inquire about purchasing the truck.
At about noon on the day of the robbery, the officer drove to the parking lot and saw the truck parked in the lot. The truck had a West Virginia license plate and was registered to Cyrus. The manager of the mobile home park told the officer that Cyrus had paid his rent and checked out at approximately 11 a.m. the same day. Cyrus left the mobile home park in another vehicle and left the pickup in the parking lot, hoping that it would sell.
A federal agent made a ruse call to the telephone number listed on the “for sale” sign in the truck. The call went to voice mail, and the agent left a message indicating that he was interested in purchasing the truck. The agent was able to contact Cyrus through an intermediary who called Cyrus and told him he had a potential buyer for the truck. The agent spoke to Cyrus, posing as the potential buyer. Cyrus later called the agent back and told him that he was not returning to Hollister but that the agent could arrange to wire the money to purchase the truck.
On Wednesday, Oct. 21, 2015, Cyrus turned himself in at the Branson Police Department.
Under federal statutes, Cyrus is subject to a sentence of up to 20 years in federal prison without parole, plus a fine up to $250,000. A sentencing hearing will be scheduled after the completion of a presentence investigation by the United States Probation Office.
This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney James J. Kelleher. It was investigated by the FBI, the Branson, Mo., Police Department and the Hollister, Mo., Police Department.