Was $3,775 worth robbing a Lodi bank last year?
That's the question two men are facing after being indicted on federal bank robbery charges, which carry a maximum penalty of 25 years in prison.
A grand jury last week indicted Robert Anthony McClary, 36, and Neal Edward Peterson Jr., 24, on charges that they robbed Bank of the West, 229 S. Church St., on April 13, 2006.
Peterson, however, has also been tied to several other Northern California bank robberies involving guns, and he could face life in prison if convicted.
Peterson and McClary are among five men charged in the indictment filed June 7. They're part of a group that grew up in the same Pittsburg/Bay Point area and are tied to a number of bank robberies, said Lodi Police Detective Tim Fritz.
None of the men have been charged with a robbery at the same Lodi bank exactly one year earlier, in which three men with similar descriptions forced a customer into the bank and then robbed it at gunpoint. Police believe there is a connection, though, said Fritz, who was lead detective in the 2006 robbery.
Various bank robberies remain under FBI investigation, and one of the men has since cooperated with investigators, according to an affidavit filed by the lead FBI agent handling the matter.
McClary has been jailed since moments after that robbery, in which three masked men entered the bank, threatened to kill tellers and ordered employees to put cash in pillowcases. An officer spotted McClary allegedly shedding dark clothing as he walked west from Pleasant Avenue toward Church Street, police said at the time.
The men obtained $3,775 in cash, according to the indictment. In a Sacramento robbery three months earlier at a bank of America, Peterson and two other men allegedly tried to rob the bank but got no money.
Peterson, along with some of the other men, was also indicted in a Jan. 7, 2005, World Savings Bank robbery in Chico, as well as a Jan. 31, 2005, robbery at Washington Mutual Bank on Florin Road in Sacramento.
Peterson had no prior prison record, but McClary was on parole at the time he was arrested. In October 1997 he entered prison to begin serving a five-year sentence for second-degree robbery in Contra Costa County, according to the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.
He was paroled two years later, then violated his parole four years later and served another year in prison. He returned to prison two more times and has since served the rest of his prison sentence while jailed on the Lodi bank robbery.
McClary, who was ordered to stand trial on the bank robbery charge last year, appeared Monday in San Joaquin County Superior Court and will return June 25 for motions, according to court records.
The entire matter is expected to be prosecuted federally.