PITTSBURGH (AP) — A man nicknamed the "Bucket List Bandit" after he allegedly told a Utah bank teller that he had just four months to live pleaded guilty Wednesday to that robbery and 10 other heists in nine other states.
Michael Eugene Brewster, formerly of Pensacola, Fla., faces a likely sentence of between 10 and 14 years in federal prison when he returns for sentencing Aug. 12, according to a plea agreement outlined Wednesday before U.S. District Judge Sean McLaughlin in Erie.
Brewster pleaded guilty to the Sept. 10 Huntingdon National Bank Heist in that northwestern Pennsylvania city and a string of 10 prior robberies which began June 21 in Arvada, Colo.
Brewster has been jailed since his arrest Sept. 13 in Roland, Okla., after he ran a stop sign near a casino close to the Arkansas border. When the FBI warrant for the Erie heist showed up on a computer search, Brewster was jailed there until he could be brought back to Pennsylvania, where federal prosecutors took over the nationwide investigation.
According to court documents, Brewster stole a total of $33,858 in the robberies, though an amount wasn't listed for his fifth robbery, a July 20 heist at the Bank of America in Winston-Salem, N.C.
The least Brewster stole was $632 from Landmark Bank in Columbia, Mo., on Aug 29, and the most he netted was $7,000 taken from the Wells Fargo Bank in Roy, Utah, on July 6 — the fourth robbery in the string, during which he made the remark to the teller which prompted the Standard-Examiner of Ogden, Utah to nickname him the "Bucket List Bandit." The FBI picked up the moniker and used it to publicize the subsequent robberies, until they learned Brewster's true identity.
That happened when a tipster saw news coverage of the Pennsylvania heist and called to give agents Brewster's name and birth date. The FBI filed a criminal complaint for the Erie heist after the teller picked his mug shot out of a photo lineup, and agents began investigating Brewster's involvement in the other robberies based on surveillance video and other similarities.
In each robbery, Brewster handed a teller a note and claimed to have a gun, though he never displayed one. In some cases, Brewster explained his actions by claiming to be terminally ill and, according to the FBI, specifically told the Utah teller, "I have four months to live."
Patton declined to comment on whether Brewster was terminally ill and Brewster merely shrugged and smiled when the AP asked him that question after his detention hearing in Erie last October.
Asked whether Brewster's illness has been confirmed, Assistant U.S. Attorney Marshall Piccinini said, "I can't say that is has or hasn't been. There's been nothing presented to us" that suggests Brewster is ill, Piccinini said.
Although the Bucket List Bandit moniker may have cast a lighthearted, if macabre, tone on the case, Piccinini told the judge that Brewster often threatened violence and was quite menacing.
One note to a teller said, "Don't (expletive) with me, I've got nothing to lose ... if the door gets locked or the silent alarm (is activated), I'm coming back for you first."
In addition to the robberies in Colorado, Columbia, Mo., North Carolina, Utah and Pennsylvania, Brewster pleaded guilty to robberies in Flagstaff, Ariz.; Pocatello, Idaho; Altamonte Springs, Fla., Chattanooga, Tenn.; Bloomington, Ill.; and O'Fallon, Mo., Patton said.
Nobody was hurt in the robberies.