Crime Watch

CRIME WATCH

March 31, 2006

New robbery charges for ex-political aide

In 1991, after a stint in federal prison, the former Capitol Hill press secretary pledged that his days as a bank robber were done.

Yesterday, federal prosecutors begged to differ.

They announced an eight-count indictment returned Wednesday against Thomas C. Springer, 56, of Garrett Park, charging him with seven bank robberies and one attempted bank robbery in 2004 and last year.

The indictment charges that Springer stole almost $18,000 during the robberies. In each robbery, Springer approached the teller window and passed a note which read, "Bank Robbery," according to court documents.

Prosecutors said a man entered the Chevy Chase Bank on Connecticut Avenue in Kensington on Nov. 30, 2005, approached the teller window and passed a robbery note.

According to court documents, the teller turned over $400 laced with dye packs and the man fled.

The escape did not go unnoticed, federal officials said. A bank customer was in the bank drive-through and saw a suspect leave. The witness also saw the dye packs explode in the suspect's coat pocket as he ran to his vehicle, according to court documents.

The customer followed the suspect as he drove to the Wheaton Plaza shopping mall, calling 911 with the location, prosecutors said.

Plainclothes Montgomery County police detectives found the suspect and his vehicle in the Wheaton Plaza parking lot and arrested him. There was red dye on his hands and clothes, as well as in his vehicle, prosecutors said.

Apparently, prosecutors said, he also had the blue pen used to write the robbery note still on him.

Springer has been in jail since his arrest, prosecutors said.

In the 1980s, Springer was press secretary to then-Rep. Toby Roth, who represented Wisconsin.

According to published reports, Springer spent about a year in federal prison after a conviction in three Maryland robberies in 1989. Springer was arrested again on bank robbery charges in 1995, serving a little more than a year in a federal prison in North Carolina, reports said.

"That is the central lesson to my story," he told The Sun in a 1991 interview. "When people have serious problems, there is a tendency of a lot of them to go it alone, for fear that asking for help would be seen as a sign of failure. They are just bullheaded and will plow their way through. ... But all you have to do is raise your hand and ask."

Matthew Dolan

Carroll rape suspect sought

Carroll County law enforcement officials are asking for the public's help in finding a man suspected of sexually assaulting a woman Monday night in Westminster.

The man -- described as African-American, with black hair and brown eyes, 35 to 45 years old, 175 to 200 pounds -- is suspected of assaulting a woman near Kate Wagner Road and Route 27.

Police said he may be driving an olive green Jeep Cherokee or Jeep Grand Cherokee.

Anyone with information about the incident or the suspect, who police consider armed and dangerous, should call Sgt. Brad Brown of the Carroll County Advocacy and Investigation Center at 410-386-3651.

Gina Davis

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