They may have been dressed like paranoid beekeepers, but their foul-mouthed ways earned them a much tougher-sounding nickname: the Trash-Talking Bandits. And they're wanted for what the FBI believes is among the biggest bank robberies in Colorado history, as well as one with a bizarre aftermath. How so? Apparently, one of the bandits gave some, but not all, of the purloined cash to his attorney, who returned it to the authorities. But because the lawyer won't name his client, law enforcers are naming him. Photos, video and the weird details below.
At 4:08 p.m. on January 21, according to the FBI Rocky Mountain Safe Streets Task Force, two bandits hit the Wells Fargo branch at 7401 Federal Boulevard in Westminster. The bank is captured in the following interactive graphic; if you have problems seeing the image, click "View Larger Map."
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The feds highlight the violence of the heist. The men, who are said to be of "unknown race" owing to their elaborate swaddling, employed a "take-over style," using handguns "to intimidate and terrify victim employees and bank customers," including "placing the barrel of a gun to the head of bank employees." Afterward, customers and workers alike are said to have been traumatized by the experience, with one bank staffer not yet able to return to work more than a month later.
For the next couple of weeks, investigators were stymied. But then, on February 4, the FBI Denver Field Office connected with attorney Michael Pellow, who presented agents with what's described as "a substantial amount of cash" -- a claim substantiated by a photo provided by the FBI:
The bills were delivered in the green "Sportsman's Dry Box" seen here.... ...with the box itself inside a blue-and-yellow duffel bag emblazoned with the words "HEALTH DYNAMICS PERSONAL FITNESS PROFILE AT COLUMBIA HOSPITAL:" Who gave Pellow the money? And what's the attorney's story? Continue for more about the search for the Trash-Talking Bandits, including additional photos and a video. Pellow is a namesake in PellowBeggan LLC, a Denver firm. Here's Pellow's company bio:
Mike Pellow graduated from Palmer High School in Colorado Springs in 1980. He went on to pursue his undergraduate studies at the University of Colorado in Colorado Springs, graduating cum laude in 1984. Mike completed his legal studies at the University of Colorado at Boulder, earning his juris doctorate in 1988 and was then sworn in as a Deputy District Attorney for the City and County of Denver where he served with distinction under three elected district attorneys and served as a Chief Deputy District Attorney. During his 21 years in the Denver District Attorney's office, Mike tried over 150 felony trials ranging from Burglary, Robbery and Arson to Aggravated Assault, Sexual Assault and Murder. Mike supervised deputies at all levels within the office handling cases from misdemeanors, to juvenile, to felony offenses. During his tenure Mike handled thousands of cases, reviewed thousands of warrants, made filing decisions on thousands of cases, conducted thousands of interviews with witnesses, suspects, victims, or family members. Mike also interacted with the Federal US Attorney's office on weapons charges, he taught classes on criminal law to prosecutors from around the state, he educated officers as to the law at the Denver Police Department Training Academy, and he tried murder cases in five different jurisdictions.
Despite this history of working with law enforcement, Pellow has thus far declined to identify the person who gave him the money, and that appears to have irritated the feds, especially since they say the bandits may still be in possession of "a significant number of the new-style, one-hundred dollar bills taken during the robbery."
Here's a photo of those notes:
More evidence of annoyance: In an interview with CBS4 on view below, Dave Joly, spokesman for the Denver FBI office, encourages people to keep an ear out for Pellow's name, implying that a person mentioning it could be one of the trash-talkers in question.
As for the total amount of money taken during the bank job, no one's saying publicly, at least thus far. But Wells Fargo is offering a reward of up to $50,000 for information leading to the arrest and prosecution of the men in question.
Folks with information about the bandits are encouraged to phone the Safe Streets Task Force at 303-435-7787.
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Here's a larger look at the best photo of a bandit provided thus far. That's followed by the aforementioned CBS4 report.
Send your story tips to the author, Michael Roberts.
More from our Colorado Crimes archive circa December 2013: "Milli Vanilli Bandits busted? Suspects Derrick Erwin and Jeremy Erwin in custody."