A serial bank robber dubbed the “Alabama Band Robber” because of a hat he wore, was sentenced Thursday in U.S. District Court in Seattle to 10 years in prison for five counts of bank robbery and one count of possession of a stolen firearm.
Michael Ryan Hardesty, 41, of Woodinville was arrested on August 19, 2014, after law enforcement linked him to five bank robberies in King, Snohomish and Whatcom Counties. At sentencing U.S. District Judge Ricardo S. Martinez highlighted the impact on the victim bank tellers saying “He scared the absolute daylights out of each and every one of these victims. Many of them will live with that for many, many years.”
According to records filed in the case, Hardesty was identified as a suspect in multiple bank robberies after the FBI released surveillance photos from the banks and dubbed him the “Alabama Band Robber” because of a hat that had the band’s distinctive name above the brim. He wore the hat in the July 11, 2014 robbery. A tipster identified the robber from the photos. Hardesty pleaded guilty to the following robberies:
- Bank of America, Martha Lake Branch, Lynnwood, July 7, 2014
- Whidbey Island Bank, North Seattle Branch, July 11, 2014
- Washington Federal, Bakerview Branch, Bellingham, July 18, 2014
- Washington Federal, Lakeview Branch, Bellingham, July 25, 2014
- Wells Fargo, Martha Lake Branch, Lynnwood, July 30, 2014
Law enforcement identified two cars associated with Hardesty. One car was located in Burlington, but Hardesty was able to evade police. Later, the Snohomish County Violent Offender Task Force (SCVOTF) located Hardesty on I-5 in Snohomish County. He fled on foot and was ultimately apprehended by a K-9 who tracked him to the 12700 block of 3rd Avenue West. Law enforcement discovered a stolen firearm in Hardesty’s belongings. Hardesty is required to pay restitution of $34,889 – the total taken in the five robberies.
In asking the court for a sentence of more than a dozen years in prison, prosecutors noted the impact the robberies had on the victim tellers saying Hardesty “left a trail of traumatized victims, some of whom have submitted victim statements describing how they and others have been impacted by Defendant’s criminal acts. Fortunately, no one suffered physical harm during these bank robberies, but the risk potential was obviously high.”
The case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney J. Tate London.
Several agencies were involved in the bank robbery investigation, as well as searching for the suspect, including the FBI’s Seattle Safe Streets Task Force, King County Sheriff’s Office, Whatcom County Sheriff’s Office, Bellingham Police, Mount Vernon Police, Burlington Police and Child Protective Services. The Snohomish County Violent Offender Task Force is a multi-agency unit partnership with the Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office, U.S. Marshals Service and Department of Corrections.