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82-year-old veteran accused of using toy gun to rob Southern Illinois bank of $12k

Arthur W. Bays (Benton Police)

An 82-year-old military veteran from Marion has been arrested on charges of robbing a Benton bank on Thursday.

Arthur W. Bays is accused of robbing the State Bank of Whittington. He was arrested Thursday afternoon at his home in the 1100 Block of West Main Street in Marion.

Charges state that a teller handed Bays about $12,500 after he displayed what appeared to be a handgun. In surveillance photos, the robber did not appear to make any attempt to hide his identity.

A teller placed the money into a bag provided by the robber.

An affidavit filed by an FBI agent states that police recognized the white bag as the type of bag provided at Veterans Affairs pharmacies. The FBI agent took a photograph of the bag to a VA pharmacy in Benton, where the chief pharmacist confirmed that it was the same type of bag used by the pharmacy.

Police received multiple tips that the robber was Bays. The FBI affidavit states that police went to Bays’ public-housing apartment unit, where they found him sitting at a picnic table, alone, in the backyard. He was arrested without incident.

Bays waived his Miranda rights and talked with police. He told police that he used a toy gun in the robbery. Police found a toy gun in his trash can. They also found various amounts of money in his pockets, in his wallet, and in the trunk of his car.

At a hearing Friday in federal court in Benton, U.S. Magistrate Judge Reona J. Daly ordered that Bays be released from custody after being fitted with electronic monitoring equipment. Federal prosecutors had asked that Bays be held in jail while awaiting trial, but Bays’ court-appointed lawyer, Angela Rollins, argued that Bays is not a risk to flee. The only time that Bays has ever been outside the country, Rollins said, is during his military service.

If convicted, Bays faces up to 20 years in prison, and a fine up to $250,000.

Police, in a news release, said cooperation among multiple police agencies resulted in a quick arrest of Bays.

“A joint effort by the Benton, West City, West Frankfort, Marion, Franklin County Sheriff’s Office, FBI, along with numerous tips called in by the public allowed for a swift resolution of the incident,” Benton Police wrote in a news release.

Police were dispatched to the bank for a report of an armed robbery at 9:11 a.m. Thursday. The bank is located at 200 N. Main St. in Benton.

Employees told police he displayed a handgun in his waistband and demanded money from the bank teller. Bays did not point the toy gun at anyone, according to investigators.

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© 2018 the Belleville News-Democrat (Belleville, Ill.)

Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.