Vermillion man pleads guilty to bank robbery

FORDYCE, Neb. — A Vermillion man who robbed a Fordyce, Neb., bank more than a year ago has pleaded guilty in federal court in Sioux City.

The announcement of the plea came Tuesday afternoon in a press release from the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).

At the Dec. 28 court appearance, 23-year-old Karlis Baisden admitted to robbing the Cedar Security Bank in Fordyce on Dec. 14, 2010.

With his guilty plea, Baisden was convicted of bank robbery, according to the United States Attorney's office for the District of Northern Iowa.

Baisden's plea has brought a measure of relief at Cedar Security Bank, said branch manager Duane Schieffer.

"We're happy that (Baisden) is convicted," Schieffer told the Press & Dakotan. "It's closure, knowing that he's not walking around out there."

U.S. Attorney spokesman Tim Duax said in a phone interview that he couldn't comment on whether there were other suspects in the Fordyce robbery.

Authorities only put out a search for one suspect at the time of the robbery. In addition, footage from a bank surveillance camera showed only one robber entered the bank and was involved with the actual hold-up.

Baisden's arrest and guilty plea for the Fordyce robbery actually resulted from his involvement with a later bank robbery in Lawton, Iowa, according to Duax.

"(Baisden) was caught in regards to the Lawton robbery and pled to the Fordyce robbery that occurred sooner," Duax said.

The FBI news release described the process linking Baisden to the Fordyce crime.

On April 6, 2011, a search warrant was executed at Baisden's mobile home in Vermillion. Among the items found were black watch cap-style hats, a dark blue or black "hoodie" jacket, dark jeans and a neoprene ski mask. Each of these items closely matched items worn by the Fordyce robber.

Also during the search of Baisden's residence, law enforcement seized letters written by Baisden in which he admitted to robbing the bank in Fordyce and intended to rob a bank in Lawton. Baisden had previously pleaded guilty to the Lawton robbery.

A Woodbury County, Iowa, district court judge had dismissed all charges against Baisden, who was then changed with the robberies on the federal level, Duax said.

Sentencing before United States District Court Judge Mark W. Bennett will be set after a pre-sentence report is prepared. Baisden remains in custody.

A date hasn't been set for Baisden's sentencing but will likely occur by this spring, Duax said.

On the bank robbery conviction, Baisden faces a possible maximum sentence of 20 years' imprisonment, a $250,000 fine, a special assessment of $100 and not more than three years of supervised release following any  imprisonment.

Baisden could be sentenced at the same time for both the Fordyce and Lawton robberies, Duax said.

To his knowledge, Duax believes none of the money has been recovered from the Fordyce hold-up.

Schieffer declined to comment on whether any  of the money has been recovered. However, he said the $19,000 hold-up figure listed by authorities was inaccurate and didn't come from Cedar Security Bank officials.

Schieffer declined to list whether the actual amount taken in the robbery was higher or lower than the $19,000 figure. He also declined comment on whether the bank has changed any of its security measures or procedures in response to the robbery.

The Fordyce robbery occurred shortly after 9 a.m., when many of the town's 200 residents were conducting their routine business.

A man brandishing a handgun walked into the bank, approached a teller and demanded money, according to a press release at the time from Cedar County Sheriff Larry Koranda.

The suspect was described as male, approximately 5-foot-10 to 6 feet tall, wearing a dark colored ski mask and dark sunglasses, a dark hooded sweatshirt, blue jeans and camouflage type gloves. The suspect was carrying a dark blue and silver backpack. He was armed with a black handgun.

The December 2010 robbery wasn't the first for the Fordyce bank. A 1995 heist remains under investigation.

However, authorities aren't linking that crime to the 2010 case, Duax said.

"We are not aware of any connection (of the more recent hold-up) with any prior robberies," he said.

Schieffer said he also doesn't see an link between the two robberies.

For him, the news of Baisden's conviction and sentencing ends more than a year of uncertainty for the bank staff and area residents.

"That's the biggest thing out of it," the banker said.

The current Fordyce case is being prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney's office.

According to Tuesday's news release, the robbery was investigated by the FBI, the Woodbury County Sheriff's Office, the Cedar County, Neb., sheriff's office and the Vermillion police department.

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