August 12, 2014

Robbing Highland ATM sends teen to jail

A Michigan teenager was sentenced to 4 3/4 years in prison for robbing a Highland bank ATM on Valentine's Day.

Alexander P. Gerth, 18, of Troy, Mich., and his accomplice, Ramsey Z. Fakhouri, 22, pleaded guilty early this year to federal charges of bank robbery in connection to the Feb. 14 armed robbery of Bradford National Bank.

Gerth and Fakhouri lived in Michigan, according to federal prosecutors, but Fakhouri had a girlfriend who worked at the bank in Highland. While talking with the girlfriend on the phone, Fakhouri put the call on a speaker phone so that Gerth could hear the girlfriend unwittingly give details about the bank's procedures in stocking its ATM, which was located outside the bank.

The two men decided to rob the bank and drove all night from Michigan to Illinois to wait for the bank to open. When an employee came to fill the ATM, Gerth, wearing a mask and armed with an air gun, forced the teller to give him the cash.

The girlfriend texted Fakhouri about the bank robbery and told him she watched as her coworker had been robbed. Fakhouri returned by bus to comfort the girlfriend. Gerth returned to Michigan in Fakhouri's car.

Two days after the robbery, the girlfriend received an email on her cell phone that contained photos of the alleged bank robbers. Fakhouri told the girlfriend the picture was of him, but he had nothing to do with the bank robbery. He then went to Highland Police Department in an attempt to convince them he was not involved.

He was arrested and later admitted that he and Gerth had come from Michigan to rob the bank. When Gerth was arrested, the air gun used in the robbery was found in his backpack, prosecutors said.

Fakhouri, who is now serving a 6 1/2 year prison sentence for his part in the bank robbery, planned to use the proceeds from the robbery for an engagement ring for his girlfriend.

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