Charges dropped against alleged Huntington Bank robber

By Elisabeth Waldon • Last Updated 5:11 pm on Thursday, October 18, 2012

Reuben Olson III

GRAND RAPIDS — Reuben Olson III was scheduled to go to trial Monday for allegedly robbing the Huntington Bank in Greenville at gunpoint and stealing $2,761 last year.

But federal charges were dropped at the last minute in U.S. District Court Western District of Michigan in Grand Rapids.

Olson, 22, was released from custody.

However, “It’s an open case,” said Acting Supervisor Sean Burns with the FBI in Grand Rapids. “It’s an ongoing investigation.”

 Bank robbery

The Huntington Bank on Lafayette Street (M-91) in downtown Greenville was robbed at 10:34 a.m. Nov. 9, 2011.

Olson was accused of entering the bank’s west door, vaulting the teller counter and approaching a female teller, verbally threatening her, putting a semiautomatic pistol to the back of her head and demanding she open her cash drawer. However, the drawer was locked and the teller could not immediately open it.

Olson then allegedly approached another female teller and had her open her cash drawer. He allegedly stole the contents of the drawer, then returned to the first teller who had by then unlocked and opened her drawer. He allegedly stole the contents of that drawer as well.

Olson then allegedly kicked open the door to the teller line, breaking it off its hinges, and left the bank via the main doors on the east side of the bank. As he was allegedly running to the bank’s door, several stolen bills fell from his person. He was allegedly last seen running east across Lafayette Street.

 Arrested, interrogated and charged

Olson was arrested in February at his girlfriend’s home in Shepherd, Isabella County. An anonymous tip led to Olson’s capture, according to FBI special agent Benjamin Slizewski.

When Olson was located by officers, he told them he had not robbed the bank and agreed to take a polygraph test. Brad Beyers, a polygraph examiner special agent with the FBI, administered a test to Olson at the Greenville Department of Public Safety on Feb. 9.

Olson was asked if he had robbed the bank or participated in the robbery. The polygraph indicated Olson was deceptive in his answers, according to the FBI. Bayer interrogated Olson further and Olson allegedly admitted that he had been lying and that he had robbed the bank. Olson allegedly provided Bayer with a signed written statement admitting his involvement. He provided details of the robbery, including the clothes and boots he wore and the handgun he used.

However, after the interrogation, Olson recanted his confession. He was placed into federal custody and charged with armed robbery.

 Trying to get mother’s attention?

Olson’s attorney, Assistant Federal Public Defender Rhona Taylor, argued against presenting information at trial regarding Olson’s previous stay in jail from Jan. 19 to Jan. 31, 2011, on a third-degree criminal sexual conduct charge, which was later dismissed. Olson’s mother visited him in jail at that time.

Taylor said the government is claiming the mother’s visit to jail is relevant information to present to trial because Olson allegedly told the FBI that he committed the bank robbery to get attention from his mother.

“The  government is arguing that it will introduce the evidence to show motive and to corroborate Mr. Olson’s alleged statements,” Taylor stated in a court document. “The government is arguing that the evidence should be admitted. The evidence, however, is really being used to show Mr. Olson’s alleged character and his alleged actions in accordance with that character in allegedly committing the charged robbery. Essentially, the government is trying to say that Mr. Olson is someone who has gone to jail in the past to get his mother’s attention, so he did that here. This evidence is not … evidence.”

 Mental health issues

Olson provided notice to the court on Sept. 28 that he intended to call a mental health expert and a false confession expert to testify at Monday’s trial.

Dr. Ron Nieberding conducted an evaluation on Olson at the Metropolitan Correction Center in Chicago and found that Olson suffered from depressive disorder and anxiety disorder. He also found Olson operated in the borderline high-functioning range, but noted Olson’s performance on an intelligence test indicated that he was not putting forth his best effort into it.

Olson was diagnosed in 2004 with oppositional/defiant disorder and conduct disorder. When he became an adult, the Social Security administration sought to cut off his benefits, but Olson opposed that and was granted adult benefits based on a primary diagnosis of affective mood disorder and a secondary diagnosis of oppositional/defiant disorder.

According to U.S. attorney Patrick Miles Jr., none of Olson’s mental health issues are relevant to the crime. Miles made a request on Oct. 3 to exclude it from trial.

 Charges dismissed

On Oct. 11, the government moved to dismiss charges against Olson and requested the dismissal be entered without prejudice as jeopardy has not yet attached and the statute of limitations for the offense has not yet expired. Judge Robert Holmes Bell granted the motion.

Miles said his office had no comment on the matter.

Taylor did not return a message seeking comment.

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