A paroled felon was convicted today of robbing a Fifth Third bank branch in Wyoming last summer, but federal jurors acquitted him of robbing the same branch nine days earlier.
Joseph Allen Elllsworth was convicted of the July 20, 2016 robbery on 54th Street just west of South Division Avenue. The heist netted about $7,300. He was also accused of robbing the same bank on July 11. A federal jury in Kalamazoo on Thursday, April 6 cleared him of that heist.
Ellsworth, 32, faces up to 20 years in prison when he returns for sentencing later this year. He remains in federal custody.
The verdicts Thursday afternoon cap a jury trial that lasted three days and included testimony from several witnesses.
Defense attorney Christopher M. Gibbons called the case against Ellsworth circumstantial.
Federal prosecutors say there was evidence Ellsworth used the stolen loot “to purchase marijuana on multiple occasions,’’ court records show.
The first hold-up occurred about 12:30 p.m. Investigators say the suspect displayed a gun during the robbery. He was dressed in dark clothes and wore a mask and green gloves. The suspect was last seen running west from the bank.
The July 20 robbery took place about 2:17 p.m. when a man entered the bank wearing a mask. He demanded money from a bank employee at gunpoint.
Police say they believe the suspect used a bicycle to make good his escape. Officers searched an apartment complex near 68th Street and South Division Avenue and recovered a bike believed to be used in the getaway.
During the second robbery, a bank employee placed a red dye pack in with the money, according to court records. It exploded, releasing a red dye 10 seconds after the robber left the bank.
Six days after the July 20 heist, Ellsworth’s roommate contacted federal authorities and said he believed Ellsworth was responsible. Agents seized Ellsworth’s cell phone, locating photographs of money “which appears to be stained with red dye,’’ according to court records.
Ellsworth was living in a halfway house at the time of the robberies after being paroled to Grand Rapids less than six months earlier. He was sent to prison in 2007 for a home invasion conviction in Kent County. Ellsworth has seven felony convictions dating back to 2002.
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