Court Upholds Sentence For Fishing HatBandit

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MINNEAPOLIS - (07/24/06)–The U.S. Court of Appeals for the8th Circuit issued a ruling Friday confirming a 15-year prisonsentence for John Whitrock, the “Fishing Hat Bandit”who robbed more than 21 credit unions during a two-year spree.Whitrock, 58, pleaded guilty in May 2005 to 21 area credit unionrobberies, but never showed a weapon even though he implied he hadone. Whitrock later claimed he was only carrying a plastic squirtgun. U.S. District Judge Richard Kyle sentenced him to more thanthe seven-to-nine years in the federal sentencing guidelinesbecause of the threat to tellers. “The ultimate sentence,roughly eight months imprisonment for each robbery, isreasonable,” the appeals court ruled. Whitrock was arrestedin a dramatic incident when Dean Wickstrom, president of RealFinancial Center CU, tracked him after a hold-up at his creditunion and called police on his cell phone to tell them whereWhitrock was hiding. Prosecutors said the bandit, so-called becauseof a fishing hat he wore during most of the heists, stole less than$90,000 during his spree between 2003 and 2005.

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