Suspected 'Groucho bandit' arrested on smoke break

July 16, 2008 3:34:49 PM PDT
Police allege a Chicago-area man carried out a string of bank robberies in recent weeks while wearing a bushy, fake mustache that led to the nickname of "the Groucho Bandit."Michael William Staadt, 37, was arrested on Tuesday outside The Other Side Bar on North Clark Street. FBI agents questioned Staadt when he went outside to smoke a cigarette. A bar employee called police after seeing photos of the suspect that were released by the FBI.

"We kind of asked a couple of other customers to make sure we weren't going on a wild goose chase. Then we called the tip line," said Taylor Aue, bar manager.

"We had several people call us to tell us they believe Michael Staadt was the individual depicted in the photographs. Then an even better break came yesterday afternoon," said Ross Rice, F.B.I.

The bar said Staadt is a regular, who, on the night a nearby bank was robbed bought three rounds for the entire bar.

"Always had a lot of cash on him. Customers even asked him, 'Why are you carrying, like, $3,000 around with you in cash?,'" said Katy Campbell, bar employee.

"He reached in his pocket and pulled out a wad of cash that would make Donald Trump look like a pauper. I mean, he had a roll of hundreds and fifties," said Scott Horning, bar patron.

The suspect was dubbed the "Groucho Bandit" because of the thick mustache he wore during robberies that officials believe gave him a resemblance to Groucho Marx.

As of Wednesday afternoon, Staadt had been charged in connection to just one bank robbery. However officials believe he committed seven others and had one failed robbery attempt. The crime spree, which targeted nine North Side banks, began on May 29, police said. He got away with money in all but one.

Staadt is being held without bond pending a July 23 hearing.

According to his attorney, Staadt has a history of mental illness and his family had tried getting him help for months.

Attorney Hugh Reed called the situation "a family tragedy."

"And now we just want to get some help for Michael," said Reed, who said Staadt's family had complained to the Chicago Police Department that he was stealing money from the family. "If the Chicago police department had done its job we probably wouldn't even be here now," Reed said.


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