'Polite' Bend bank robber gets 30 months

Trial, conviction two months after holdup, arrest

BEND, Ore. - A Deschutes County judge tried and convicted a 46-year-old Mitchell man Tuesday, then sentenced him to 2 1/2 years in prison in the June holdup of a northeast Bend bank.

Gary Kent Peterson was convicted of third-degree robbery and second-degree theft in the June 16th holdup of the Columbia Bank at 1701 NE Third Street. He was arrested less than seven hours later in the Marion County town of Stayton.

Deputy District Attorney Kandy Gies prosecuted the case with the assistance of Bend and Stayton police and bank employees.

In pronouncing sentence, Deschutes County Circuit Judge Michael Adler noted that despite Peterson being "polite," his conduct and actions constituted robbery.  He then sentenced Petersen to 30 months in prison, followed by two years of post-prison supervision.

Peterson walked into the bank around 9:40 a.m. that morning, walked up to a teller's desk and sat down.

He leaned forward and said, in a very low voice:  "I need you to do me a favor."

"I need you to pull out all the money in your drawer, starting with the $100s," he said, adding, "Do not push any buttons or alarms." 

Once the teller handed over the money as demanded, he quickly left, prosecutors said, noting that the entire transaction took less than a minute. 

Immediately after Peterson left, the teller called 911 to report she had just been robbed. 

Officials said she was so terrified and shaken up, she had difficulty speaking to the dispatch operator, but she was able to briefly relay information about the robbery and the suspect's description.

Later that day, assisted by the Wheeler County Sheriff's Office and Stayton police, Peterson was apprehended in Stayton, with marked bills taken from the bank in his possession, prosecutors said.

DA Patrick Flaherty said, "I'm proud of the successful prosecution of this case and the continuing collaboration between our office, law enforcement and the community."

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