Michigan Man Sentenced to Prison for the Valentine’s Day Robbery of Bradford National Bank in Highland
Stephen R. Wigginton, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Illinois, announced today that Ramsey Z. Fakhouri, 22, of Troy, Michigan, was sentenced today in federal district court in East St. Louis for Bank Robbery.
Chief Judge David R. Herndon sentenced Fakhouri to 78 months in federal prison, to be followed by three years of supervised release, and a $100 special assessment. The charges relate to the robbery of the Bradford National Bank in Highland, Illinois, on Valentine’s Day this year.
During Court hearings, the following facts about the case were revealed. Fakhouri and a co-defendant lived in Michigan. But Fakhouri had a girlfriend who worked at the bank in Highland. Fakhouri had met his girlfriend a couple of years earlier at the Indiana Bible College. While talking with the girlfriend long-distance one day, Fakhouri put the call on speaker phone so that the co-defendant could hear the girlfriend unwittingly give details about bank’s procedures in stocking its ATM, which was located outside and away from the bank building.
Fakhouri and the co-defendant decided to rob the bank employee who filled the ATM. One of Fakhouri’s motives for the bank robbery was to buy a $13,000 engagement ring for his girlfriend.
Fakhouri and his co-defendant brought with them two Airsoft pistols that looked like real semi-automatic handguns. They drove all night from Michigan to Illinois. They then waited for the bank to open and for an employee to re-stock the ATM. While they waited, Fakhouri’s girlfriend called him to wish him good morning.
Fakhouri watched as his girlfriend pulled onto the bank lot.
When an employee came out to fill the ATM, the co-defendant, masked and armed with what looked like a gun, forced the employee to give him the cash from the ATM. “This is the look of terror,” said the prosecutor, as he showed the Court a bank security photo of the employee’s face as she cowered before the armed co-defendant.
The co-defendant returned to the car and Fakhouri drove the car away from the bank. Later, the co-defendant drove as Fakhouri counted the cash—about $16,000 for him but only about $10,000 for the co-defendant.
The unsuspecting girlfriend soon texted Fakhouri about the bank robbery and about her own fears—she had watched helplessly from inside the bank while her fellow employee had been robbed.
Fakhouri decided to return by bus to comfort his girlfriend. She and her father met him at midnight at the St. Louis bus station. The co-defendant drove Fakhouri’s car back to Michigan. Fakhouri stayed with the girlfriend’s family, keeping his portion of the money in his gym bag at their house.
The girlfriend received an e-mail on her cell phone that contained photos of the alleged bank robbers. Fakhouri tried to explain that although one of the images was of him, he had nothing to do with the bank robbery. He rode with his girlfriend to the Highland Police Department to let the police know that he had nothing to do with the robbery. The police did not believe his story, so they put him under arrest. As they emptied his pockets, they found $766.91.
The co-defendant was arrested in Michigan; the Airsoft gun was in his backpack.
Further investigation indicated that both Fakhouri and the co-defendant had Airsoft pistols that the co-defendant had provided for purposes of the bank robbery.
Portions of a victim statement from the bank employee who was robbed were read at sentencing. This led the judge to remark that the statement was “One of the most descriptive I’ve ever read and one of the most effective. The victim-impact statement does a wonderful job of describing the treachery of bank robbery. Bank robbery is a devastation almost beyond description.”
The case was investigated by members of the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Highland Police Department. The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Stephen B. Clark.