Bank robber found guilty of escaping, going on crime spree

Jan 9, 2013 - by - 0 Comments

January 9, 2013 Chicago Tribune

A convicted bank robber who escaped from custody while being driven to a courthouse in 2009, then went on a crime spree for a little more than a day, was convicted today of escape, bank robbery and weapons charges.

A federal jury convicted Robert Maday, 42, on all five counts. Maday was visibly upset when the verdict was announced in U.S. District Judge Ruben Castillo’s courtroom, audibly gasping as he leaned back in his chair.

Later, Maday’s lawyer, Anthony Sassan, said his client effectively faces life in prison given the charges on which he was convicted as well as his previous criminal record.

Maday was able to free himself from restraints, grab a gun from an investigator for the Cook County state’s attorney’s office and flee. He then stole cars from two women at gunpoint over the next 27 hours and robbed the same bank he had about a year earlier before he was captured after a high-speed chase.

The escape riveted the Chicago area and was an embarrassment for State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez. Two investigators for her office were transporting Maday to a courthouse in suburban Rolling Meadows when he freed himself and escaped.

Sassan did not dispute that his client escaped custody but focused much of his defense on whether Maday used a gun when he allegedly robbed a First American Bank branch in Bloomingdale -- something that is likely to significantly add to the prison sentence he faces.

In a videotape of the robbery at the bank, Maday never displays a gun. But prosecutors argued at closing arguments Tuesday that based on testimony from prosecution witnesses and Maday’s own statements to the FBI, a shadow underneath his T-shirt was the weapon tucked into his waistband.

But Sassan told the jury that Maday’s statements were made after he was involved in a high-speed chase with police and crashed a getaway car, requiring medical attention and medication. Sassan suggested the “bulge” in Maday’s waistband could have been a belt or a baseball cap.

“I’m not here to tell you he didn’t escape, just as I am not here to tell you today is not Tuesday,” Sassan said. “ …Are you convinced beyond a reasonable doubt that the bulge in his shirt was a gun?”

Prosecutors dismissed the idea, reminding jurors that tellers testified that Maday told them he was armed and that they saw the impression of a gun.

Assistant U.S. Atty. Andrianna Kastanek told the jury she could address Sassan’s argument with four words Maday is alleged to have told tellers.

“I have a gun,” the prosecutor said slowly.

Kastanek also brushed off suggestions from Sasson that the bulge in Maday’s waistband could have been a hat.

“This isn’t a gun-shaped hat,” she said while holding up for the jury a white baseball cap recovered from Maday.

Prosecutors also told jurors it was illogical to believe Maday didn’t use a gun at the robbery. According to testimony, he stole the weapons from the county investigators, forcing them to release him. He then wielded a gun while stealing a vehicle from a woman to use for a getaway car. Both weapons were also recovered after the crash.

“Of course, he had a gun that day,” prosecutor Derek Owens said. “He was using these guns during the entire escape.”

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