By Joshua Benton
Blade Staff Writer
Scott Kelly Hansen, the bank robber who escaped from federal custody Friday, had pleaded guilty to a string of bank robberies earlier this year.
On Nov. 4, Hansen pleaded guilty to four heists, including three in northwest Ohio: one in Toledo, one in Findlay, and one in Fostoria.
On Sept. 22, he pleaded guilty to two bank robberies in Rhode Island.
In the six robberies, Hansen escaped with about $11,500, federal officials in Rhode Island said. Each was a “note job,” in which the robber passes a threatening note to a teller demanding money.
Hansen could face up to 20 years on each of those guilty pleas, which could be served concurrently or consecutively.
That decision was to be made Jan. 26 by Judge Ronald Lagueux in U.S. District Court.
The judge might not get the chance.
Hansen walked away from the Adult Correctional Institution in Cranston, R.I., Friday, after he impersonated a U.S. marshal on the phone and presented prison staff with a phony federal court order releasing him.
Hansen, who is from Toledo, could be headed back to this area, where he has family and friends, officials said.
But local and federal authorities said yesterday that they have received no information to indicate he is in Ohio.
“We’re checking all the leads that come through,” said U.S. Marshal John Leyden, who is leading the search in Rhode Island.
Mr. Leyden is the marshal Hansen impersonated in his escape.
Mr. Leyden said more than a dozen people from the FBI, state police, and his office have formed a task force to track down Hansen.
“We’re treating it as if he’s still in Rhode Island until we learn otherwise,” he said. “But we’re working with other states, in case. I would like to think that he’s still in this area.”
Just five hours after his escape, Hansen allegedly robbed a bank in suburban Providence. He was not wearing a disguise and took $7,000, authorities said.
Hansen has been convicted of bank robbery twice, in 1985 and 1990.
He was released from prison early in 1997 for testifying against Toledo lawyer Richard Neller in a high-profile murder case in 1996. At that time, Hansen was entered into the federal witness-protection program.
The FBI released a list of other heists Hansen is suspected of committing, including the robbery of a KeyBank in Toledo on April 6, the holdup of a credit union in Dayton on April 10, and a robbery in Ann Arbor, Mich., on April 24.