Bank robber gets 4 years, hit with contempt

EVERETT — A convicted bank robber talked his way onto the wrong side of a Snohomish County Superior Court judge Wednesday after he refused to affix his fingerprints to some paperwork.

Judge Michael Downes was patient at first, listening to Stephen Haff’s five-plus minute speech expounding on why the criminal court has no authority to convict or imprison him. Haff, referring to himself as a “third-party creditor,” demanded his immediate release.

“You are a citizen and subject to the same laws as the rest of us,” Downes said.

The judge then sentenced Haff to nearly four years in prison for a 2011 robbery at a Marysville bank.

Haff wasn’t done, though. He said he wasn’t going to allow anyone to roll his fingerprints onto the court record and he wasn’t going to sign any paperwork.

Downes, however, was done.

He ordered Haff to be held in contempt. He warned the man that meant Haff wouldn’t get any credit toward his sentence while he was in defiance of the judge’s orders.

“I hold you contempt for violating my inalienable rights,” Haff shot back.

Downes left the bench, only to return two minutes later after Haff reconsidered. He said he would follow the judge’s orders as long as he could make a record of his protest.

“I’m doing this under threat and don’t believe the order is lawful. And, accordingly, this is bull,” Haff said.

A jury in February took about 30 minutes to convict Haff of first-degree robbery.

Prosecutors alleged that he passed a lengthy note to a US Bank teller demanding money.

Haff left the note behind but made off with about $2,600.

Scientists at the state crime lab found a thumbprint on the back of the note. The print matched that of the defendant.

Jurors also were told one of Haff’s hairs was found in a baseball cap similar to the one worn by the robber.

The defense argued that someone else could have committed the heist and planted evidence to frame the defendant.

On the day he was convicted, Haff flipped off the lead detective while the verdict was read.

Diana Hefley: 425-339-3463;

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