The Sledgehammer – Version 2.0

May 25, 2009

Recycled Newspaper: The Great Redmond Bank Robbery That Wasn’t

Filed under: History, Recycled Newspaper, Redmond — Tags: , — Brian Lutz @ 12:40 am

Update 5/26/09:  Added  details on the sentencing of the seven co-conspirators in this plot based on a Seattle Times article I was able to find.

It sounds like a plot straight out a Hollywood blockbuster. Seven members of an extremist organization devise an elaborate plot to rob three small town banks in one day. And we’re not talking your run-of-the-mill bank robberies either. Surely there would be no way that a small-town police force would be able to respond to three banks being robbed simultaneously. Nonetheless, just to make sure that the police wouldn’t be able to interfere with their plans, they were going to take the police force out of commission. To do this, they were going to bomb the police station and take control of the police airwaves, which would then be used to coordinate the plot. Not only that, but they also planned to bomb the city’s main power transmission lines to cut the city’s power and prevent whatever police remained from being able to call for outside help. In the ensuing chaos, they would rob the three banks, andescape in stolen getaway cars before anyone could even respond.

Even in the movies, an elaborate plot like this sounds farfetched, but this is exactly what seven members of a right-wing extremist organization known as the Minutemen planned to do in Redmond in January of 1968. In the last Recycled Newspaper post, I covered a number of crime stories from Redmond as reported by the Sammamish Valley News in May of 1968. Although stories of a high-speed car chase around Education Hill and a quickly foiled armed robbery attempt certainly grab the headlines, it turns out that just a few months previous to these, there was a much bigger crime story in Redmond that I managed to miss completely.

Unfortunately for the would-be bank robbers, the FBI had been tipped off to their plot several weeks in advance, and an elaborate investigation by the FBI ultimately resulted in all seven co-conspirators being arrested before their plot could be carried out, with significant amounts of weapons andexplosives in their possession. Ultimately, not only would the seven men be charged with conspiracy to commit robbery, but the leader of the Minutemen would also face conspiracy charges related to the robbery plot. As it turns out, this plot was covered not only by the Sammamish Valley News, but also received extensive coverage from the Seattle Times and P-I as well, and the story even reached a number of national papers, including the New York Times and Los Angeles Times. Much of the local coverage of this story can be found in the Redmond Historical Society’s archives in printed form. As with many of the items found here, the Internet also helps fill in a number of additional details, mostly in the form of court documents related to the criminal proceedings resulting from this plot. After the jump, a look at the Great Redmond Bank Robbery That Wasn’t. Oh, and you might want to grab a drink or something, because this one is long.

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