Credit Union Robbery Suspect in Plea Talks

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OMAHA - Federal prosecutors are negotiating a deal with the man they believe to be the Credit Union Bandit that would send him to jail until he is almost 80 years old.

Richard Matzke, 57, has been charged with robbing credit unions in six different federal jurisdictions and is preparing to plead guilty to about 40 robberies in 10 midwestern states over a two-year period.

Authorities are expected over the next month to sign off on a plea deal under which Mr. Matzke would confess to about 42 robberies, 40 of them at credit unions, in exchange for a 20-year prison term.

"We're trying to pull together the details," said Fred Franklin, an assistant U.S. Attorney in Omaha.

Mr. Matzke, who apparently acted alone during his alleged robbery spree, favored credit unions because of what he saw as lax security, in relation to banks, Mr. Franklin said. "He believed there was less security, making them easier marks than banks."

According to police, Mr. Matzke was arrested in April in Urbandale, Iowa, after his live-in fiancee recognized him in surveillance photos of the so-called Credit Union Bandit, which had been published in the local newspaper and aired on local television. He subsequently was charged with harassment after he allegedly threatened to kill his girlfriend.

Among the credit unions Mr. Matzke is said to have robbed or tried to rob are Ralston Purina Employees Federal Credit Union in Davenport, Iowa; Sioux Valley Credit Union in South Dakota; and Dakota Telco Credit Union in Fargo, N.D.

Larry Holmquist, a special agent for the Federal Bureau of Investigation in Omaha, said that Mr. Matzke has been indicted on robbery charges in Michigan, Nebraska, Iowa, Kansas, and South Dakota.

During the robberies, Mr. Matzke would typically show a handgun or act as if he had one, according to Mr. Holmquist. He is not believed to have used the weapon during any of the holdups.

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