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Man charged with robbing South Loop bank

Surveillance photos of the man who robbed a First American Bank branch Wednesday afternoon. | FBI

A 55-year-old man has been charged with robbing a South Loop bank Wednesday afternoon, and is suspected in three other robberies in less than a month.

Everett L. James was charged with one federal count of bank robbery and appeared Thursday before U.S. Magistrate Michael T. Mason at the Dirksen Federal Building, according to a federal criminal complaint. He has been held pending a detention hearing on Aug. 15.

About 4 p.m. Wednesday, a teller at the First American bank branch at 1241 S. Wabash Ave. spotted a man wearing a red shirt looking into the bank, and thought it was suspicious because he did not enter the bank, according to the complaint.

Less than 30 minutes later, a man wearing a fake beard, a white fisherman’s hat and a suit approached a teller window and said, “All the money in your drawer.”

The man then grabbed a cloth bag out of the hands of a customer who was at the window at the time, and demanded the teller put the money in the bag, the complaint said. The cloth bag already contained the customer’s $60 in quarters and $100 in ten dollar bills.

The suspect was talking into a cell phone during the robbery and told employees to keep their heads down and not look at him. He also told bank employees that he knew their names, where they live and that they should not put themselves in danger, the complaint said.

A second teller heard the man say, “This is a robbery.” The customer heard him say, “This is a stickup.”

The teller put money in the bag, but also put a GPS tracking device in the money, while another teller put a second tracking device in the bag, the complaint said. The robber then ran out of the bank, heading south on Wabash.

He made off with about $2,228, the complaint said.

Minutes after the robbery, a Chicago Police officer responding to the robbery was notified of the GPS tracking device location in the 300 block of West Wacker Drive, the complaint said. That officer spotted a man pacing in the lobby of the building, and although he wasn’t wearing the suit, he matched in sex, race, height, weight and age of the robber.

The officer learned from building security personnel that the man was making a delivery on the 23rd floor. The officer waited for the man to return to the lobby, and eventually had the man identify his vehicle, the complaint said.

The officer looked through the window of the blue 2016 Nissan Versa, and saw a grey sport coat. A black beard or wig and a tan canvas bag were also found in the vehicle.

At 5:18 p.m., they took James to the bank, where two tellers and the customer positively identified him, authorities allege. He was also identified as the man in the red shirt seen looking into the bank just before the robbery.

James is also suspected of robbing a Fifth Third Bank branch at 1:56 p.m. Aug. 6 at 3601 N. Broadway; a Parkway Bank branch at 3:52 p.m. July 25 at 39 N. Morgan St.; and a Fifth Third Bank branch at 3:32 p.m. July 12 at 29 W. Division St., the FBI said. He hasn’t been charged in connection with those robberies.

He didn’t show a weapon in any of the robberies and no one was hurt, authorities said.

Surveillance images from a July 12, 2016 bank robbery at 29 W. Division St. | FBI
Surveillance images from a July 12, 2016 bank robbery at 29 W. Division St. | FBI