By Sara Jean Green Seattle Times staff reporter
A 23-year-old British Columbia man — who aspired to a leadership role in a planned Canadian crime family — was sentenced to more than 12 years in federal prison today for his role in the 2006 armed robbery of a Tacoma bank that was masterminded by members of an elite Army Ranger unit based at Fort Lewis.
Tigra Robertson of Peachland, B.C., is one of five men convicted of stealing $50,000 from a Bank of America branch on South Tacoma Way on Aug. 7, 2006. The robbers — three Army Rangers stationed at Fort Lewis and two Canadian nationals — wore body armor and threatened bank employees with guns, including an AK-47 machine gun, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Western District of Washington in Seattle.
Dressed in military garb with black masks covering their faces, the men entered the bank after 5 p.m., demanded cash and fled within 90 seconds. Robertson attempted to grab money from the bank's vault but the team decided too much time had elapsed and so they left with only money stolen from tellers' drawers, federal attorneys said.
A bystander saw the men leave the bank and gave the license plate number of their getaway car to police. The car was traced to Fort Lewis, "where evidence of the crime was uncovered at the men's' barracks," wrote office spokeswoman Emily Langlie in a news release.
Robertson — who was convicted of armed bank robbery, conspiracy to commit armed bank robbery and brandishing a machine gun — was sentenced to 12 ½ years in prison and five years of supervised release.
He was a trusted sidekick of Army Ranger Luke Sommer, who planned the robbery and was sentenced to 24 years in federal prison in December. Fellow Ranger Chad Palmer was sentenced to 11 years in prison, also in December.
Ranger Alex Blum and Canadian national Nathan Dunmall are scheduled to be sentenced next month.
Holding up the bank was supposed to be a first step toward starting a Canadian crime family to take on the Hell's Angels biker gang for control of the drug and firearm trade in Kelowna, about 200 miles east of Vancouver. Sommer had assigned Robertson the rank of captain in the planned criminal organization, federal attorneys said.
Robertson, who turned himself in to police six days after the robbery and later posted a $25,000 bond, was taken into custody after this morning's hearing, Langlie said. He will remain at the federal detention center in SeaTac until Bureau of Prison officials decide where to send him to serve his time, she said.
Sara Jean Green: 206-515-5654 or firstname.lastname@example.org
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