Judge orders suspected ATM thief to stay in jail

A fugitive 4 months, man is caught in Tenn.

July 11, 2006|By MATTHEW DOLAN | MATTHEW DOLAN,SUN REPORTER

A federal judge in Baltimore yesterday ordered a suspected ATM thief to remain locked up after prosecutors in Maryland said they received new information that may link him to additional thefts.

A fugitive for four months, Tracy D. Fletcher, 29, of Bowie fell back into authorities' hands last month after an off-duty officer in Tennessee recognized Fletcher at a Wal-Mart and arrested him. He is charged with conspiracy to commit bank robberies.

Prosecutors told Magistrate Judge Paul W. Grimm yesterday that Fletcher should stay in jail in Baltimore because, among other things, Fletcher had cut off the electronic-monitoring bracelet used to restrict him after an earlier arrest.

Federal prosecutors in Baltimore believe Fletcher led a gang of thieves who, since 2003, have sliced into or stole more than 30 automated teller machines across four states. Two machines stolen in Bowie last year each held more than $100,000, according to court papers. Fletcher has been charged with conspiracy to commit bank larceny.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Stephanie A. Gallagher said in court yesterday that an article published in The Sun on Sunday prompted calls to the FBI from other law-enforcement jurisdictions, which could ratchet up the number of ATM thefts in which Fletcher is charged.

"The government believes he is the personification of serious risk of flight," she said.

Fletcher's attorney, Joseph G. Gigliotti, argued that his client has not been charged with most of the ATM thefts described by prosecutors. Gigliotti added that the charge in Spotsylvania County, Va., against Fletcher had been dropped.

But Grimm concluded that Fletcher, who had a lengthy history of prior arrests and convictions, should remain in federal custody.

Lawyers in the case expect a trial for Fletcher to last about three weeks, but did not set a date yesterday.

matthew.dolan@baltsun.com

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