Pulling down a six-figure salary from his legit work wasn’t enough for Rick Lee Davis.

The San Francisco man was caught Aug. 3 attempting to rob $3,000 from a Bank of America branch in the San Francisco suburb of Concord. Upon questioning, the stocky Mr. Davis, 43, confessed to being the man police had nicknamed “The Robust Robber,” suspected in eight bank robberies in the Bay area that had netted about $57,000.

As it turns out, he is an atypical bank robber not only in physique.

Mr. Davis, who was indicted on nine counts Thursday by a federal grand jury in Oakland, was drawing a yearly salary of $120,000 as an air-traffic controller for the San Francisco International Airport.

“He’s had a well-paying job, and he’s been a spokesman for his union,” Concord police detective Mike Finney said.

In fact, Mr. Davis, as the president of his airport’s air-traffic controllers union, was interviewed the day before the B of A holdup on a local television news program covering the union’s involvement in the airport’s current expansion.

“Most bank robbers are unemployed, and typically they are substance abusers,” Mr. Finney said. Mr. Davis has no drinking or drug problems but does have a major spending problem that caused him to go bankrupt, the detective said. He told police that he remained a “DVD junkie” in bankruptcy and that he used the money from the robberies to lavish gifts on his kids.

“He really stole the money from the banks so that his children and his friends would not know that he was in such deep financial trouble,” Mr. Finney said. People like Mr. Davis usually resort to credit card fraud or writing bad checks — crimes that are not punished as severely as bank robbery — to support their spending habits.

“This guy must have been really desperate to do something so stupid as to rob banks,” Mr. Finney said. “He’s looking at doing federal prison time — probably between five and 10 years.”

In all the robberies, Mr. Davis pretended to have a gun, authorities say. He was arrested in his car outside the Bank of America branch by an undercover officer who had witnessed the holdup.

He was in a local halfway house last week awaiting trial after his sister and two friends paid $150,000 in bail.

Mr. Davis is not to be confused with the suspect in a series of New England bank robberies whom officials with the Federal Bureau of Investigation call “The Fat Man” [American Banker, June 22, 2001].

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