Charge: Everett man robs bank, again, asking to go to prison

James Kohlhepp waited for police outside the bank, waving cash, charges say. He was arrested hours later.

James J. Kohlhepp Jr. (Washington Department of Corrections)

James J. Kohlhepp Jr. (Washington Department of Corrections)

EVERETT — A robbery suspect waved around cash outside of an Everett bank and told people he was waiting for the cops, according to new charging papers.

James Kohlhepp Jr., 46, told officers he robbed a bank after growing tired of life on the street. Police believe he wanted to be caught, so he could go back to prison — virtually repeating a robbery from four years ago.

Charges say the suspect picked up a deposit slip at 11:15 a.m. July 23 inside a Chase Bank on Colby Avenue.

The man wrote, “give me all your money!!!”

He handed the message to a teller at station No. 2. The man did not threaten the teller or show a weapon to her.

She gave him cash. Once he was out of sight, she told the lead teller what had happened. He told her to hit the panic button. She picked up the phone to call police, too, but the bank’s security company was calling in to verify the alarm. It took her eight minutes to get on the phone with 911.

Meanwhile, the suspect stood outside the southeast corner of the bank, waving the loot, according to a witness report. Eventually, when the police didn’t show up right away, he walked off.

Kohlhepp had reportedly told the same witness about his plan. He “could not make it on the outside anymore and wished to return to prison,” according to the charges.

About 6½ hours later, Kohlhepp called the police to turn himself in, court papers say. He told authorities he could be found at a Motel 6 on 128th Street SW. He let police search his room, and they seized his phone and a backpack that the suspect apparently wore during the robbery. He told police he robbed the bank because he “needed help.”

He’d given the same explanation in September 2015, after robbing a Bank of America in Marysville. Kohlhepp told a motel worker he had no money and he’d been off drugs for a few days in 2015, according to the charges in that case. Going to prison would help him to stay clean, he reasoned.

Later that day on State Avenue, he slammed a note on a teller’s counter and said: “Give me all your money or else.”

He took a stack of more than $2,000 in cash, leaving behind $6.

He walked outside and waited for the police — who passed him by. His clothes didn’t match the suspect description. Kohlhepp waved over an officer.

“I’m the guy that just robbed the bank,” he said, according to court papers. “The money is in my pocket.”

He served a three-year prison sentence in that case. It was the first time he’d been convicted of a felony since 1993.

Court papers show he’d been discharged from probation less than four months before this year’s heist.

Prosecutors charged Kohlhepp on Friday with first-degree robbery, a crime that requires a threat of immediate force, violence or fear of injury. The defendant remained behind bars Monday, with bail set at $25,000.

Caleb Hutton: 425-339-3454; Twitter: @snocaleb.

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