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5 indicted in series of armed robberies

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An 18-month investigation into what authorities say was the organized armed robberies of credit unions and banks in the Toledo area resulted in five men being named in an indictment unsealed yesterday in Lucas County Common Pleas Court.

Four are charged under Ohio's organized crime statute for a series of holdups to financial institutions that began nine years ago.

John F. Jackson, 33; David Booth, 37; William D. Wren, 30, and Milo Terry, 33, were indicted on one count of engaging in a pattern of corrupt activity, a crime that carries a mandatory 10-year prison sentence upon conviction.

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Prosecutors said Jackson was the ringleader of the operation that netted more than $900,000 from the heists of financial institutions from 1998 to 2001, including the attempted armed robbery of the Toledo Police Federal Credit Union in South Toledo in 2001.

In each of the crimes, the pattern was consistent: Gunmen entered the business, usually just after it opened, and demanded money from managers who had access to large sums of cash in a vault and avoided tellers who kept less cash.

The robbers also covered their faces to conceal their identity from security cameras.

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"They had the places pretty well staked out; they took an employee at gunpoint to open the safe,'' said J. Christopher Anderson, an assistant county prosecutor.

The loot taken in the robberies ranged from $61,400 to nearly $350,000.

The indictment, issued last month by a Lucas County grand jury, accuses Jackson, Booth, and Terry of committing an aggravated robbery on Sept. 14, 2000, of the Jeep Country Federal Credit Union, 3437 North Detroit Ave., at gunpoint.

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The credit union was robbed about 7:45 a.m. as an employee was opening its doors. The gunmen led the employee into the business and ordered the employee to open the vault. It is believed that the same ring was responsible for the Dec. 17, 2001, holdup of the business.

The same three defendants and James R. Wyley, 37, are accused in the indictment with the May 15, 2001, robbery of the Standard Federal Bank branch, 3546 West Central Ave., in the Westgate area. Three employees were confronted by two masked men about 8:30 a.m. as the bank was opening.

The uncharged holdups that prosecutors are seeking to link to the operation include the daring Dec. 17, 2001, holdup of a Jeep Federal Credit Union in which robbers went to the home in Oregon of a manager. The woman was taken at gunpoint at 2 a.m. by one of them to the business at 3437 North Detroit Ave. while the accomplice remained with her family.

While the indictment contains charges of aggravated robbery on the holdups, other predicate offenses in the crime ring are alleged through the organized crime statute.

The manager was left standing in the parking lot in her pajamas after the robber fled.

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The other financial institutions and dates of the holdups are: a Toledo Public Schools Credit Union branch, July 28, 1999; Firststar Loan Center, Richmond, Ind., Sept. 15, 1999; and Champion Federal Credit Union, 4140 West Laskey Rd., Oct. 30, 1998.

All the defendants except Mr. Wren were arrested last Friday by a task force of Toledo police, FBI agents, and Lucas County sheriff's deputies that investigated the robberies. They were being held last night in the county jail without bond pending arraignment scheduled for tomorrow in Common Pleas Court.

Mr. Wren, of 918 Islington St., was not in custody last night. He is scheduled for arraignment Feb. 14.

Booth, of 4355 Willys Pkwy., was convicted in 2005 of failing to comply with the signal of a police officer and sentenced to one year in prison. He also was given a one-year sentence for probation violations on a 2004 child support conviction.

Terry, of 1748 Buckingham St., was convicted on a weapons charge in 2002 and sentenced to probation. Jackson, of 125 West Park St., was convicted in 2001 on a weapons charge.

Contact Mark Reiter at:

mreiter@theblade.com

or 419-213-2134.

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