Bank robbery suspect, 76, has long criminal history

Scott Sonner
Associated Press

Reno, Nev. — FBI agents investigating an armed robbery at a Reno bank figured they had their man when they found the 76-year-old suspect hours later eating lunch at a nearby casino and asked him what he did for a living.

“I used to rob banks,” Tommy Ray McAdoo answered, according to the federal criminal complaint.

McAdoo, who has been in and out of prison since the mid-1960s, said he recently moved into the local homeless shelter because he couldn’t afford to pay his monthly rent.

Prosecutors say he made off with $2,731 in a paper grocery sack Nov. 9 from a bank across the street from the federal courthouse where he’s scheduled to appear at a preliminary hearing Thursday afternoon. He’s charged with bank robbery with the use of a dangerous weapon — a large steak knife.

McAdoo has been convicted of at least five different bank robbery charges in a criminal history dating to 1964.

Most recently, he pleaded guilty to a Seattle holdup in 1990 and was serving a 15-year-prison sentence in federal prison in Terre Haute, Indiana, when he assaulted another inmate with a metal bar in 2001.

He was released on probation in 2008, court records show. A federal judge in Seattle agreed to cut his supervision short in 2011 after McAdoo’s public defender argued he’d been out of trouble for more than two years and was “at an age where he poses a significantly reduced risk the community.” He was 71.

Last Wednesday, about 11:30 a.m., he walked into the Nevada State Bank with the knife and a note he scribbled on the back of a betting sheet from the casino sports book demanding money, according to an FBI affidavit. He later told Reno detectives he previously had thought about robbing a bank there, the affidavit said.

The teller said she was scared throughout the ordeal because “he was repeatedly tapping the knife on the teller counter in front of her.” But she managed to slip four “bait bills” with registered serial numbers and an electronic tracker into the bag of loot, the complaint said.

About three hours later, FBI agents found a $100 bill wrapper in a restroom toilet inside the Club Cal Neva and spotted him eating lunch.

McAdoo produced a Washington state driver’s license when the agents asked for ID. It’s not clear when he moved to Reno, but he had registered as a sex offender at an address at an apartment on the edge of downtown, state records show.

McAdoo initially told the FBI agents he didn’t know anything about the holdup. But he later said he had stashed the blue sweatshirt investigators found underneath a truck in the bank parking lot, and he eventually acknowledged his role in the robbery, the criminal complaint said.

U.S. Magistrate Valerie Cooke ordered him held without bail, citing his criminal record, history of violence, lack of stable residence and prior violations of his supervised release.

McAdoo’s criminal convictions include those for multiple bank robberies in 1981, simple battery and creating a turmoil in 1972, assault with intent to commit murder, and assault with intent to commit rape in 1968.

His current federal public defender, Christopher Frey, did not immediately respond to requests for comment.