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Crime & Courts

Robber who wrote name on hold-up note is caught counting money outside Anchorage bank, FBI says

Anchorage police rapidly solved a bank robbery Tuesday after the suspect handed the teller a hold-up note with his name and birthdate on the back, according to a charging document filed Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Anchorage.

But Anchorage police didn't even need that handy tip to arrest Michael Gale Nash after he left First National Bank Alaska on 36th Avenue in Midtown with $400 in a bag, the FBI says.

"It's my understanding he was sitting outside the bank counting his money when police arrived," said Staci Feger-Pellessier, a spokeswoman with the FBI in Alaska.

Police arrived on scene "a few minutes" after getting the call. The robber confessed to the crime, according to the criminal complaint, filed with U.S. Magistrate Judge Leslie Longenbaugh.

Bank robbers aren't always easy to catch. A couple of weeks ago, the FBI had five open bank-robbery investigations, said Feger-Pellessier. That's now down to three, she said.

There have been "a handful" of robberies so far this year, she said, not an unusual amount.

"This is probably the quickest (apprehension) in recent history, at least locally for Anchorage," Feger-Pellessier said.

Nash entered the bank wearing a large backpack, sweater and blue jeans shortly after 4 p.m. Tuesday, documents say.

He handed the teller a note: "This is a hold up. Please put the money they want in the bag. God help us!!!"

The hold-up note was written on the back of a form from an organization that provides affordable housing in the Lower 48. Nash's personal information was on the form.

Feger-Pellessier said she understands no weapon was involved.

The teller, new to the job, was "momentarily dazed," and did not immediately follow steps to alert police and co-workers. But a manager noticed the look on her face after the teller interacted with Nash, learned the details and reported the crime.

The teller "was visibly shaken, displaying shortness of breath and on the verge of crying," according to the affidavit by an FBI investigator.

Nash's criminal record includes convictions for stealing personal property in 1993 and forgery in 2000, and a court-martial in 1996 for distributing drugs, the affidavit said.

Chloe Martin, a spokeswoman with the U.S. attorney's office in Alaska, said the case is still being investigated. She said the attorney's office could neither confirm nor deny if Nash was under the influence of drugs or alcohol during the robbery.

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