U.S. Attorney's Office
Northern District of California
(415) 436-7200
October 27, 2015

San Francisco Resident Indicted for Straw Hat Bandit Bank Robberies

SAN FRANCISCO—A federal grand jury indicted Richard Laurence Stewart today for committing a string of bank robberies throughout San Francisco, announced Acting United States Attorney Brian J. Stretch and Federal Bureau of Investigation Special Agent in Charge David J. Johnson. The indictment follows a complaint and affidavit filed on October 19, 2015.

Stewart, 52, of San Francisco, was arrested on October 18, 2015, after an investigation by the San Francisco Police and the FBI led to a search of his San Francisco residence. According to a previously filed complaint and the indictment, the FBI has been investigating the Straw Hat Bandit since a robbery on October 27, 2014. The FBI believes Stewart went on to commit a number of robberies, each time wearing a disguise. The affidavit describes a number of different disguises allegedly used by Stewart during the robberies, including glasses, hats, a black curly wig, a fake beard and mustache, and a single surgical glove.

According to the affidavit, Stewart eventually was identified as the bandit after a witness saw him leaving the scene of one of the robberies in a taxicab. Authorities later linked Stewart to the taxicab request. In the search of Stewart’s apartment, agents found hats worn during some of the robberies, a blue surgical glove, and a demand note that stated, “This is a robbery.” The indictment charges Stewart with four counts of bank robbery or attempted bank robbery, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 2113(a). The robberies charged occurred on May 12, May 13, October 14, and October 16, 2015.

An indictment merely alleges that crimes have been committed, and all defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. If convicted, Stewart faces a maximum sentence of 20 years’ imprisonment and $250,000 on each count of bank robbery. Additional terms of supervised release, penalties, and restitution may be ordered upon conviction. However, any sentence following conviction would be imposed by the court only after consideration of the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and the federal statute governing the imposition of a sentence, 18 U.S.C. § 3553.

Stewart made his initial appearance on October 20, 2015, in San Francisco before U.S. Magistrate Judge Elizabeth D. Laporte. He is scheduled to be arraigned on the indictment on November 3, 2015, before U.S. Magistrate Judge Laurel Beeler.

The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Lloyd Farnham and Shailika Kotiya with the assistance of Veronica Ramirez. The prosecution is the result of an investigation by the FBI and the San Francisco Police Department.

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