Accused bank robber needed money for golf

Thursday, May 11, 2006

A Garrett Park man pleaded guilty to four counts of bank robbery Wednesday, telling police that he needed the money to play golf.

Thomas C. Springer, 57, of Garrett Park, appeared in U.S. District Court in Greenbelt following his arrest on Nov. 30 after robbing the Chevy Chase Bank in Kensington, according to a news release from U.S. Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein.

In a videotaped confession, Springer admitted to robbing seven banks and attempting to rob another between November 2004 and November 2005, Rosenstein said. In each robbery, Springer approached the teller window and passed a note that read, ‘‘Bank Robbery,” netting a total of $20,896. During the confession, Springer said he robbed the banks because he needed money for golf and was struggling to pay rent.

Springer followed the same pattern in the Nov. 30 robbery that led to his arrest, the release stated. He approached the teller, passed a note and received $400 in the form of four serialized dye packs.

As Springer fled the bank, a customer in the drive-through lane learned of the robbery and saw the dye packs explode in Springer’s coat pocket as he ran to his vehicle. The customer followed Springer as he drove to the Westfield Wheaton mall and called 911, providing the operator with a description of Springer and his whereabouts.

Montgomery County Police detectives arrived at the mall parking lot and arrested Springer after finding him in his vehicle, stained with red dye on his hands and clothes. Police also searched Springer and also recovered the blue pen apparently used to write the demand note.

The maximum penalty for each count of bank robbery is 20 years in prison and a $250,000. Springer remains in federal custody and is scheduled for sentencing before U.S. District Court Judge Deborah K. Chasanow on Aug. 28.