Pinole Bank Robbery Suspect Mistakenly Released
PINOLE (CBS SF) — A miscommunication between police investigators and the district attorney’s office led to the release of a man now wanted by the FBI for a brazen Pinole bank robbery where he allegedly held a gun to a teller’s head, authorities said.
Gary Casdell Fite, Jr., 22, is suspected of robbing a Mechanics Bank branch on Pinole Valley Road on March 1, law enforcement officials said.
He allegedly jumped the teller counter, held a handgun to the head of a teller and stole a large amount of cash from the drawer, officials said.
Pinole police arrested him and a getaway driver later that day after a short low-speed traffic pursuit. Police said the stolen money and the gun used in the robbery were recovered from the car.
The two were booked into county jail in Martinez at 4:55 p.m. that day, police said
Police investigators and the Contra Costa County District Attorney’s Office then had to decide whether to file the charges on a county or federal level, Pinole police Chief John Hardester said.
After discussing the case on the morning of March 4, the district attorney’s office notified police that afternoon that it would charge Fite and his alleged accomplice, identified as Regina Dean, 37, of Antioch, Hardester said.
However, suspects have to be released from police custody within a certain amount of time unless they are charged with a crime. There was confusion between investigators and the district attorney’s office whether the charges needed to be filed by March 5 or March 6, Hardester said.
Charges were not filed by the deadline, 5 p.m. on March 5, so Fite and Dean were released from jail as required by law, sheriff’s spokesman Jimmy Lee said.
Immediately after realizing the mistake, warrants were issued for both suspects, and Dean was found and arrested later that night, Hardester said. Fite remains at large.
At this point, the two are facing federal charges in the case. They were formally charged with armed bank robbery in U.S. District Court in Oakland on March 8.
The FBI said that a federal arrest warrant has been issued for Fite, whose last known address was in Oakland earlier this year and also has ties to Reno, Nev., Antioch and Vallejo.
He is described as a black man, 5 feet 8 inches tall and weighing 180 pounds. He has a tattoo on his neck and a scar on his chest.
The FBI regards Fite as armed and dangerous. Anyone with information on his whereabouts is asked to call their local FBI office or the nearest American embassy or consulate.
“He’s a fugitive,” FBI spokeswoman Julianne Sohn said. “At the end of the day, we’re going to do whatever we can to get him back.”
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