When arrested at a bus depot in Olympia, the alleged bank robbers had different stories for where the cash came from.
Jeanine Daniels, 32, claimed the bills totaling $4,807 – which had been shoved inside socks and stashed in her purse – were tips for doing hair and that she rode the bus from Los Angeles to Washington to do some Christmas shopping.
She couldn’t explain why she was going home without any gifts.
Curtis Smith, 22, said he came to Washington to sell information on how to make methamphetamine and the $2,487 found on him was payment for the drug deal. Despite investigators watching him hug and chat with the other suspected bank robbers, Smith insisted he knew none of them.
His cousin, Douglas Smith, 22, said he found $3,825 lying in the street.
Kevin Brown, 38, offered no explanation. He just watched as investigators removed $6,972 from his backpack and $392 from his wallet.
They are among seven people charged with three counts of bank robbery and one count of conspiracy to commit bank robbery for a five-year string of holdups in South Sound and two other states. Five of them are scheduled to appear in federal court this afternoon.
The crew was comprised of Los Angeles gang members who rode buses to other states to hold up banks and have been honing their methods since the 1990s.
Federal prosecutors contend this group came to visit Anthony Mosley, 46, at his Tacoma home, which served as a base camp for the gang while they scouted area banks.
Mosley, who allegedly acted as the getaway driver, has also been charged.
Authorities found $1,161 next to his bed and a pillowcase used in one of the robberies wadded up and hid beneath two blankets in a spare room. Mosley’s wife, whom he met on the Internet and recently wed, told investigators she noticed the pillowcase was missing when the Smiths’ last stayed at her house.
That was in early September, when prosecutors say they did a takeover style robbery at a U.S. Bank branch in Lakewood.
The gang is believed to have knocked over banks in Lakewood, Kirkland and Seattle.
The FBI South Sound Gang Task Force is looking into the likelihood that they also robbed a Washington Federal Bank in Federal Way Sept. 13, another bank in Ohio last year and at least 10 in Michigan from 2011-2012.
It was a “highly sophisticated” conspiracy where the gang would look for banks without guards or “bandit barriers” and steal a getaway car, court records show.
Three men wearing masks would enter the bank, jump over the counter, take money and escape in less than two minutes. They would then abandon the getaway car and switch to a car they’d rented for that purpose.
Mosley’s wife told investigators she was always asked to rent a car when her husband’s L.A. friends visited, and they were particular about what they wanted.
For the Lakewood bank robbery on Sept. 6, 2012, a witness saw a group matching the description of the gang members pile into a white SUV after abandoning a stolen Buick in an alley two blocks from the bank.
No one was injured in the robbery. In fact, one of the robbers wished a female customer a nice day after trying to snatch her purse on his way out the door.
Warrants have been issued for Charles Williams, 39, and Janalisa Estrada, 33, who were also suspected of being involved with the bank robberies.
Although Pierce County prosecutors filed similar charges against the group earlier this month, they were dismissed today.