3½ years for crane operator who turned to bank robbery

He had led a crime-free life but lost his job, and he said he needed money for cancer medication.

EVERETT — Russell Howard Beeman spent 30 years working as a crane operator, a job that he lost after becoming ill and receiving a diagnosis of cancer.

It took roughly four minutes Thursday for him to be sentenced to prison for a pair of January bank robberies.

“I did something stupid and I’m sorry for it,” Beeman, 57, told Snohomish County Superior Court Judge Anita Farris.

The 3½ years behind bars is a low-end punishment under state guidelines. It was an agreed recommendation from lawyers on both sides of the case.

Beeman admitted robbing two Wells Fargo banks, one on Jan. 3 and the other Jan. 23. In the last holdup, he told a teller he had a bomb and demanded money. The bank hid a GPS device in the cash.

Deputies swiftly tracked down the getaway vehicle. Beeman surrendered without a fight. The loot was recovered. A fake bomb, made up of a circuit tester wrapped in electrical tape, was found in the truck.

Beeman confessed to the robberies. He told detectives he’d recently lost his job and had been diagnosed with cancer and needed money to pay for medicine, court papers show. During his court appearance Thursday, he recounted similar details.

Prior to the robberies, the Lynnwood man had spent decades working as a crane operator and by all indications had lived a “lifetime devoid of any criminal convictions,” deputy prosecutor Andrew Alsdorf wrote when he charged Beeman in early February.

“He didn’t have so much as a speeding ticket,” Cassie Trueblood, the public defender assigned to Beeman’s case, told the judge.

Scott North: 425-339-3431; north@heraldnet.com. Twitter: @snorthnews.

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