The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Man chooses jail over wife — robs bank, sits in lobby until arrested, FBI says

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Home? Or jail?

Wife? Or sheriff’s deputies? Such choices.

Federal authorities say Larry Ripple chose a life behind bars over another minute at home with the wife. On Friday afternoon, according to a complaint filed in federal court, Ripple, 70, walked into the Bank of Labor in downtown Kansas City, Kan., handed over a note to a teller which said, “I have a gun, give me your cash,” and was given $2,924 in currency from the drawer. (Now is the part where we typically write, “The robber then fled the bank.”)

The robber then took a seat in the lobby and began chatting with the bank security guard, the complaint by Special Agent Eric R. Beltz states. All of this was captured on surveillance video. “I’m the guy you’re looking for,” Ripple allegedly told the guard. The guard took Ripple into custody and retrieved the $2,924, Beltz wrote. The police and FBI were summoned, and Ripple was taken to the police station. (This story was first reported by the Kansas City Star’s ace courts reporter, Tony Rizzo.)

Advised of his Miranda rights, about 45 minutes after the stickup, Ripple agreed to speak to the authorities and said that “he and his wife had an argument at home and Ripple no longer wanted to be in the situation. Ripple wrote out his demand note in front of his wife,” Beltz wrote, “and told her he’d rather be in jail than at home. Ripple then walked to the bank and robbed it.” Further details of the domestic unrest were not reported in the complaint.

Ripple was promptly incarcerated and held in the Wyandotte County jail, charged with one federal count of bank robbery. However . . .

On Wednesday, federal authorities foiled his plot. Court records show Ripple appeared before U.S. Magistrate Judge David Waxse, and Waxse ordered the defendant to be released from jail on his own recognizance. For a bank robbery! What does a guy have to do to stay in jail?

Forcibly returned to freedom, Ripple could not be located for comment Wednesday evening.