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Tip, task force led to arrest of mom wanted in string of Downriver bank robberies

James David Dickson
The Detroit News

Wyandotte — A 45-year-old woman faces four felony bank robbery charges in three Wayne County communities, court records show.

Amalia Helton of Southgate was arraigned Wednesday at Wyandotte's 27th District Court on one of the charges involving an alleged June 12 bank robbery. Bond was set at $250,000, and she'll have to wear a tether if released.

Bond was set at $5,000 for other bank robbery charges out of Southgate. 

The bank robbery charges range from a Nov. 24 incident in Allen Park to the June 12 incident in Wyandotte. The alleged Southgate bank robberies took place on Dec. 19 and May 20. 

Archie Hamilton, deputy police chief in Wyandotte, said the June 12 incident took place at Monroe Bank and Trust on the 2500 block of Fort Street. The suspect allegedly made off with more than $1,000 after handing the teller a note demanding cash.

On Monday, at a PNC Bank in Lincoln Park, a Downriver task force arrested Helton. The task force consisted of members of the Wyandotte, Allen Park, Riverview and Southgate police departments, along with the Michigan Department of Corrections, Hamilton said.

Based on a tip, Hamilton said, "we started watching her, and started putting 2 and 2 together, and started following her. We watched her go to a PNC Bank in Lincoln Park. She jumped out of the car and basically had her robbery attire on. It was a warm day and she had a sweatshirt with a hood pulled over her head, sunglasses on. Very similar to what she's already robbed banks with. She walked into the bank, turned around, jumped in her car, something scared her, and we took her down."

Hamilton said police "recovered evidence" linking Helton to the Wyandotte robbery and the others, though he declined to go into specifics. Never, at any point, did Helton say or imply she was armed, Hamilton said. 

Helton is scheduled to be arraigned Monday at 24th District Court in the Allen Park case, court records show. Wayne County Circuit Court records do not show charges in the Lincoln Park incident, or in an allegedly attempted bank robbery in Riverview, in which police name Helton as a suspect.

Dearborn Heights attorney Christopher Shemke, a former assistant prosecutor in Wayne County, will handle Helton's defense. 

Shemke was retained by Helton's family. After meeting with Helton, he described her as a "very nice person" who is in "good health" but "found herself in dire straits."

If the cases are bound over for trial at Wayne County Circuit Court, Shemke said he will seek a "global resolution" that would treat the matters as one.

"We'll be able to paint a different picture as to why this alleged behavior came to fruition," Shemke said. "After reviewing her actions, I'm hopeful the Wayne County Prosecutor's Office will see it fit to be lenient when dealing with her admonishment. These allegations are not in her character."