Fishing Hat Bandit Set To PleadGuilty

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ST. PAUL, Minn. - (05/02/05) -- The Fishing Hat Bandit, who menacedmetropolitan area credit unions for a year-and-a-half, is expectedto withdraw his plea of innocence and plead guilty to some of the22 charges pending against him later this week.Fifty-seven-year-old John Whitrock, of nearby Burnside, pleaded notguilty in February to 21 robberies and one attempted robbery--16 ofthem at credit unions--in what was the most prolific string ofbanking robberies in the state's history. Authorities believe hemay have been responsible for as many as 25 robberies during an18-month spree. He is scheduled to appear in federal court Fridayfor a change-in-plea hearing. Whitrock, nicknamed for hispreference of a floppy fishing hat and deep-water waders duringmost of the heists, was arrested Jan. 7 after robbing RealFinancial CU, when the credit union manager, Dean Wickstrom,followed him during his getaway and alerted police to his hidingplace.

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