A 31-year-old Baltimore man has been indicted in a spree of bank robberies that began two years ago in Baltimore and neighboring counties, the FBI says.
However, it took several months before the FBI learned the man's whereabouts: He was in prison doing time on an unrelated charge.
Yesterday, a federal grand jury indicted James Leon Anderson on 21 counts in connection with nine bank robberies in the city and Baltimore and Anne Arundel counties, the FBI said. The FBI believes he may be linked to 29 bank robberies.
Anderson had been imprisoned in the Maryland Correctional Institution at Hagerstown on a one-year sentence for malicious destruction, the FBI said.
His step-brother, Gary Harrison, 19, of the 2600 block of Huron St., also was indicted yesterday in six of the robberies, the FBI said.
Since June 1989, the FBI and local police have been investigating 29 bank robberies in the three jurisdictions, in which a black man used a note to get money from bank tellers. He implied he had a weapon and after getting the money would escape on foot.
The robber was described as slender, between 28 and 35, 5-foot-8 to 5-foot-10, with a medium complexion and facial hair. He usually wore sunglasses and a hat or beret, the FBI said.
Because of the French-type beret, he was dubbed "Pepe," by the FBI, said Jim Dearborn, a bureau spokesman.
After a savings and loan association on Reisterstown Road was robbed Jan. 11, authorities said the robberies suddenly stopped.
Normally, the robberies fitting that description were pretty regular, occurring every two to three weeks.
After there were no bank robberies reported for about four months, the FBI sent fliers with descriptive information and bank surveillance photos to area correctional facilities, parole and probation officers.
The FBI was trying to learn if the robber had been jailed, had died or had fled the area, Dearborn said.
"We just didn't have any idea who he was," Dearborn said. "He was quite successful in robbing banks for about 18 to 19 months."
In June, the FBI's efforts paid off. An officer at MCI fingered Anderson as the robber, the FBI said.
In the indictment, Anderson is charged with nine counts of bank robbery, two counts of armed bank robbery and two counts of federal firearms violations.