‘Straw-hat bandit’ indicted for robbing four SF banks

A San Francisco man believed to use unusual disguises during his alleged crimes was indicted by a federal grand jury Tuesday on charges of robbing four banks in The City in May and October.

Richard Laurence Stewart, 52, was arrested on Oct. 18 after an investigation by San Francisco police and the FBI led to a search of his Sunset District apartment, where authorities allegedly found a straw hat, a cowboy hat, a wig, a fake beard and a demand note similar to those reportedly used in the robberies.

Stewart was previously charged in a criminal complaint filed on Oct. 19 with one count of robbery. The indictment replaces that complaint.

The indictment accuses Stewart of attempting to take money from a Chase Bank branch on May 12; robbing a Bank of America branch of $7,100 on May 13; taking $316 from a U.S. Bank branch on Oct. 14; and robbing a California Bank & Trust branch of $6,760 on Oct. 16.

An affidavit filed with the earlier complaint by FBI Agent Adrienne Sparrow alleged that witnesses said the perpetrator sometimes carried a demand note saying “This is a robbery” and wore various costume items including hats, a wig, a fake beard and a mustache.

Sparrow said in the affidavit that Stewart was eventually identified as a suspect after a bank teller saw the perpetrator leave in a taxi parked across the street after the May 13 robbery of the Bank of America branch at 2310 Fillmore Street. A telephone request for the taxi was later linked to Stewart, according to the affidavit.

Following his arrest, Stewart made an initial appearance before a federal magistrate in San Francisco on Oct. 20. He is being held without bail for the time being.

He is due to be arraigned on the indictment and to have a detention hearing before U.S. Magistrate Laurel Beeler on Nov. 3.

If Stewart is convicted in a not-yet-scheduled trial, each bank robbery count carries a possible maximum sentence of 20 years in prison.

 

Just Posted

It’s not uncommon to find a plastic tampon applicator washed up on the beach. (Courtesy Eva Holman)
The environmental toll of disposable feminine products

Uninhibited feedback by cisgender women is key

Dreamforce returned to San Francisco in person this week – but with a tiny sliver of past attendance. PHOTO COURTESY SALESFORCE
Dreamforce returns with hundreds on hand, down from 170,000 in the past

High hopes for a larger Salesforce conference shriveled during the summer

The numbers show nearly 14 percent of San Francisco voters who participated in the Sept. 14 recall election wanted to oust Gov. Gavin Newsom from elected office. (Shutterstock photo)
(Shutterstock photo)
How San Francisco neighborhoods voted in the Newsom recall

Sunset tops the list as the area with the most ‘yes’ votes

Alison Collins says that she and other members of San Francisco Unified School District Board of Education facing potential recall “represent constituents that are often erased or talked over.” <ins>(Kevin N. Hume/The Examiner)</ins>
Alison Collins speaks: Embattled SF school board member confronts the recall effort

‘It’s important for folks to know what this recall is about. It’s bigger than any one of us.’

Is the Black Cat incident a distraction from the recovery of The City’s storied nightlife industry or does Mayor London Breed’s behavior inadvertently highlight the predicament the industry’s been in since San Francisco reinstated indoor mask requirements on Aug. 20?<ins> (Kevin N. Hume/The Examiner, 2021)</ins>
Club owners to maskless mayor: Are we the new fun police?

Black Cat affair highlights difficult recovery for nightlife industry

Most Read