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Elderly bank robbery suspect in San Diego says mortgage drove him to crime

September 19, 2009 | 10:31 am


A 69-year-old man with severe medical problems has apologized for robbing a San Diego bank and says he needed money to pay his mortgage to prevent him and his 73-year-old wife from becoming homeless.

In a jailhouse interview with NBC 7/39, Michael Casey Wilson said he needed $50,000 to pay off a 17% mortgage when he walked into the Bank of America branch in the City Heights neighborhood on Monday.

Wilson told a teller he would detonate a bomb in a briefcase unless she handed over money, authorities said. He walked out with more than $100,000 but was arrested a few blocks away on the porch of a house, apparently exhausted.

"I've never done a bad thing in my life," Wilson told a television reporter. "But you get desperate; I guess you throw all that ... out the window."

Wilson, 5 feet 8 and 250 pounds, walks with a cane. His attorney said in a brief appearance in court that Wilson suffers from "major" ailments. Wilson listed those for the TV station as severe arthritis, sleep apnea, heart problems and an emotional issue.

Wilson pleaded not guilty to three charges Thursday in San Diego County Superior Court. He remains in jail on $50,000 bail. No explosive was found in the briefcase.

Wilson said his scheme was to kidnap the bank manager, take a cab to the San Diego airport, drop the manager there and then take a cab to his home. He said he had considered what would happen if he got caught.

"It was 50-50," he told NBC 7/39. "Well, if I get caught, I get caught. I'm dying anyway, so what difference does it make?"

-- Tony Perry in San Diego

Photo: Bank robbery suspect Michael Casey Wilson. Credit: NBC SanDiego