2 booked in region bank heists
Two men confessed to robbing three western Colorado banks of more than a combined $20,000 during a two-month spree stretching from Rifle to Montrose, according to an arrest affidavit.
Brandon Dewayne Smith, 33, 606 Darlene Court, and Troy Allen Ashley, 24, of Clovis, Calif., are being investigated for ties to a fourth bank robbery, federal authorities said Monday. Smith and Ashley were ordered held on $500,000 bond each during first appearances Monday before Montrose County Judge Jerry Montgomery.
Ashley on Monday expressed bewilderment that the FBI hadn’t already brought a case.
“I was told ... this would be sent to federal,” Ashley said via closed-circuit television.
The judge explained he couldn’t speak to federal law-enforcement plans.
Smith and Ashley are being held on state charges, including two counts of aggravated robbery, felony menacing and theft between $1,000 and $20,000, which stem from the June 24 robbery in Montrose of Alpine Bank, 1400 E. Main St., and Friday’s robbery in Cedaredge of Surface Creek Bank, 945 S. Grand Mesa Drive.
The affidavit said Ashley told investigators he was the gunman who robbed American National Bank, 429 Railroad Ave. in Rifle on May 27. Smith denied involvement in the Rifle robbery.
The FBI is investigating whether they were involved in armed robbery July 26 at US Bank, 2448 F Road.
In the Montrose, Cedaredge and Rifle robberies, authorities believe Ashley used BB or air soft pistols to obtain cash from tellers, the affidavit said.
Smith told investigators he split proceeds with Ashley, the affidavit said. The relationship between the men isn’t specified in the affidavit.
“Mr. Ashley maintains a residence in the state of California and only visits Mr. Smith for the purposes of committing bank robberies, before fleeing back to California where he awaits for the next event,” the affidavit said.
Smith acknowledged he was a “designated driver,” operating getaway vehicles for the Montrose and Cedaredge robberies. Smith said his limited role was the result of “his inability to run due to a medical condition,” the affidavit said.
During his first appearance Monday, Smith told the judge he suffers from congestive heart failure and takes regular shots through St. Mary’s Hospital Family Practice.
Deputy District Attorney Jason Wilson told the judge Smith has prior arrests in Arkansas in 1995 for commercial burglary, and breaking and entering, as well as a 2002 arrest in Oklahoma for lewd acts with a child.
A registered sex offender, Smith was arrested in Colorado in 2007 for suspicion of failure to register.
Ashley’s criminal history includes a 2002 arrest in California for second-degree burglary, while failing to appear in court five times between 2007 and 2009, Wilson said.
Smith told investigators he and Ashley drove up to Alpine Bank in Montrose around 7:30 a.m. on June 24, but they found themselves waiting in their vehicle until 9 a.m., when the lobby finally opened to the public, the affidavit said.
Ashley himself reported robbing the bank, then running back to Smith’s waiting vehicle.
“Mr. Smith said that they drove south toward Ouray, turning to go to Nucla and Naturita, stopping on a side road to split up the monies ... then returned to Grand Junction where they changed vehicles,” the affidavit said.
After changing vehicles, Smith said, he drove Ashley to Las Vegas, where Ashley boarded a bus bound for San Diego. Smith estimated his share of the robbery take was $2,800.
Smith, Ashley and a woman who was not named by authorities were arrested Friday as the occupants of a Ford pickup truck in Mesa County, hours after the Cedaredge robbery. The woman, who has not been charged, was the driver of the pickup. A Mesa County Sheriff’s Department deputy reported both men having pockets “bulging out” with cash, the affidavit said.
“Smith voluntarily uttered the money was his rent money,” the affidavit said.
Altogether, $6,519 in cash was found on Smith, Ashley, as well as the uncharged woman. Despite the presence of cash in the woman’s purse that was suspected of being from the robbery, Montrose police said Monday they don’t believe she was involved in the robbery plan Friday.
Police believe she drove a pickup to Padilla’s Mesa General Store, 10986 Colorado Highway 65, at their request.
“She said she had gotten a call from one of them saying they were having car trouble,” Montrose police Commander Gene Lillard said. “Our detective believed she was being truthful.”
Lillard said the two suspects repeated a story about having car trouble to clerks at the Mesa store.
A witness reported seeing two men and a woman changing vehicles in the parking lot, before leaving the area in a pickup headed to Grand Junction.
After his arrest, Ashley led detectives and FBI agents back up Grand Mesa, where he showed them where he had ditched a backpack, shoes, sweatshirts and a firearm from the robbery.