“Grandad Bandit” Accused of Robbing 25 Banks in 13 States Arrested

RICHMOND, VA—Michael Francis Mara, 52, of Baton Rouge, La., a/k/a the “Grandad Bandit,” was arrested today by the FBI in Baton Rouge for robbing at least 25 banks in 13 states in less than two years.

Neil H. MacBride, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia; Michael Morehart, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI Richmond Division; Alex J. Turner, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI Norfolk Division; and David W. Welker, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI New Orleans Division, made the announcement.

“A tip to the FBI made today’s arrest possible,” said U.S. Attorney MacBride. “This is a great example of how the public and law enforcement must work together to keep our communities safe.”

“This arrest would not have been possible without the assistance of civic-minded citizens and the publicity provided by radio stations and print media and the coordination of digital billboards by the Outdoor Advertising Association of America,” said FBI Special Agent in Charge Morehart. “Let this be a heads up to those involved in criminal activity–the cooperation between law enforcement and the public will lead to justice.”

According to court records, Mara is accused of robbing at least 25 banks in Virginia and throughout the country in a similar manner, and many of the robberies were caught on surveillance video. He allegedly would enter a bank without a disguise, patiently wait in line, and then present a demand note to a bank teller. Once the demands were met, Mara allegedly would retrieve the demand note and exit the bank quietly.

After a bank robbery on June 22, 2010, in Glen Allen, Virginia, the FBI coordinated an extensive fugitive publicity campaign through the use of digital billboards to solicit help from the public in identifying and locating the man they dubbed the “Grandad Bandit.” On August 2, 2010, the Norfolk FBI Field Office received information from a tipster identifying Mara as the robber and provided, among other things, photographs. These were compared with surveillance footage, and investigators allegedly found consistent key identifiers between the surveillance images and the photographs of Mara, including a hat, eyeglasses, and wrist watch that appear to be identical.

Mara was charged by criminal complaint of committing bank robbery. If convicted, he faces 20 years in prison.

This case is being investigated by the FBI. Assistant United States Attorney Roderick Young is prosecuting the case on behalf of the United States.

The charges contained in the criminal complaint are merely accusations, and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

A copy of this press release may be found on the website of the United States Attorney's Office for the Eastern District of Virginia at http://www.usdoj.gov/usao/vae. Related court documents and information may be found on the website of the District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia at http://www.vaed.uscourts.gov or on http://pacer.uspci.uscourts.gov.