Kansas ‘Bait Bill’ Bank-Robbing Poker Player Gets 65-Month Prison Sentence

Armed robbery

A Kansas poker player who robbed a suburban Kansas City bank and then went to a nearby casino to play poker with the stolen money has been sentenced to 65 months in a US federal prison.

Timothy Karpovich, who robbed a bank in Bonner City, Kansas, and used some of the stolen money to play poker at an area casino, will serve 65 months in prison. He was 39 when he committed the robbery on January 22, 2018, and was arrested within hours at the Harrah’s Kansas City casino, where he went to play poker. A casino employee recognized the player after security footage from the robbery was broadcast on area television stations.

Karpovich is likely to serve most of the sentence at the federal CI Reeves III in Pecos, Texas. Karpovich changed his initial plea to guilty in April, as part of a plea deal that allowed him to be incarcerated at the Texas prison to be closer to family. Karpovich will also be on supervised probation for two years and was ordered to pay $340 (£268) to the suburban Kansas City bank that he robbed. That amount represented the difference between what he stole and what was recovered when arrested later the same day.

Karpovich robbed the bank of only $1,052 (£828), most of which was recovered at the casino. The money was given to him in “bait bills,” easily identifiable currency that had been passed through a bill counter that recorded the ‘ serial numbers, before being handed to Karpovich.

“This is a robbery” note

According to the arrest complaint, Karpovich entered the KCB Bank branch in Bonner Spring, Kansas, at about 10:25 am on January 22. He presented the teller, identified only as “S.S.,” a handwritten note on the back of an envelope, penned in black Sharpie, that read, “This is a robbery.” S.S. complied and gave Karpovich some of the currency at her station in $10 and $2 bills, the latter of which are rarely seen in circulation. S.S. then went to the bill dispenser, where she got an additional $500 in $10 bills. The serial numbers of those bills were recorded by a camera in the dispensing machine.

Whether or not Karpovich had a weapon was unclear. The teller said that the robber kept one hand in a pocket, perhaps pantomiming the presence of a gun, and that she feared he had one there. Karpovich fled the bank on foot after grabbing the money.

Soon after information about the robbery was aired, local authorities received an anonymous tip that Karpovich was probably the robber and that he was a known “chronic gambler” at the Harrah’s Kansas City casino. That led Kansas City police to contact FBI Special Agent Trisha DeWet, who in turn contacted Harrah’s Kansas City staff. Identifying Karpovich was almost child’s play. According to the criminal complaint:

“In response to this information, SA DeWet responded to Harrah’s Casino and interviewed casino employee, S.B. S.B. has worked at Harrah’s for approximately six years and currently manages the Poker Room. S.B. advised that she received a message from S.B.’s friend. S.B. said the message contained the bank robbery suspect’s photograph that was posted on the Fox 4 News Facebook page. S.B. said she recognized the person in the photo as ‘Tim,’ who was a regular gambler in the poker room. S.B. said Tim had been in the casino earlier today (1122118), at approximately 2:51 p.m. S.B. said she contacted the casino’s surveillance department and learned Tim ‘bought in’ with ten-dollar bills. S.B. then called the Gaming Division to report Tim looked like the bank robber. S.B. estimated Tim has been gambling at Harrah’s for a couple of years. S.B. described Tim as a thin Asian male, with short dark hair, in his late 30’s, and with a quiet personality.”

Walking into an arrest

Karpovich had actually left the Harrah’s Kansas City casino when the FBI agents and Kansas City police arrived there to check some of the currency identified on casino footage as having been used by Karpovich to buy chips that same afternoon. The agents quickly identified ten $10 bills with serial numbers that matched some of the bills stolen from the KCB bank hours earlier.

Meanwhile, Karpovich returned to the casino to continue his gambling. He was arrested without incident and seemingly hadn’t even bothered to change clothes. The complaint said: “During Karpovich’s arrest, Karpovich was wearing a gray scarf. Investigators noticed the scarf was similar to the one worn by the robber, as described by the victim teller and as depicted in the bank surveillance video.”

After being arrested and informed of his legal rights, “Karpovich admitted to robbing KCB Bank. Karpovich said he was paid on Friday (1/19/18) and lost all of his money playing poker. Karpovich contemplated robbing a bank. Karpovich decided he would rob a bank on Monday (1/12/18), since he had the day off from work. Karpovich said he wrote a note on an envelope that read, ‘This is a robbery.’ Karpovich said he had to eat, obtain his laptop that he pawned, and needed gas money. Karpovich said the hat and gloves he wore during the robbery were at his residence. Karpovich said the $2 bills he took from the bank, along with the demand note, would be in his car’s center console.”

The arresting officers quickly recovered those $2 bills, along with more of the money that Karpovich stole. However, some of the bills he’d stolen were not among the “bait bills” and were otherwise unidentifiable. Karpovich ended up being jailed within 12 hours of his foolhardy robbery, with the entire court case also playing out in a relatively short span.

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