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Kirkland Wells Fargo Bank robber sentenced to 6 years

Kirkland police responded to the Wells Fargo Bank robbery by James Daniel Knupp, which occurred on March 7, 2012. - File photo
Kirkland police responded to the Wells Fargo Bank robbery by James Daniel Knupp, which occurred on March 7, 2012.
— image credit: File photo

Prosecutors sentenced an Everett man to six years of prison time for robbing the Totem Lake Wells Fargo Bank in 2012.

James Daniel Knupp, 68, faced Judge Ricardo S. Martinez at the Western District of Washington U.S. District Court on Thursday morning.

Knupp is to pay $2,858 in restitution and will serve three years of probation after his sentence is served.

Knupp pleaded guilty to one count of bank robbery on Aug. 26, 2013 after a lengthy psychological examination took place to determine if he was competent to stand trial.

On March 7, 2012, Knupp entered the Wells Fargo Bank located at 12560 120th Ave. NE wearing a bright orange shirt, black nylon mask, a hat and gloves, according the Kirkland Police Department police report.

He walked to the back of the bank and refused to take off the mask when asked by the teller.

A bank employee heard Knupp tell the teller he was “here for the money.” The employee saw him move closer to the teller and state that he robbed banks for a living and not to make a sudden movement.

“[The bank employee] stated that he heard the suspect say to the teller if she put a dye pack in the money, something bad would happen,” police documents say, adding that he reached into his pants, as if he were going to pull out a weapon.

After the teller handed him a wad of cash totaling $5,560, Knupp walked out of the bank, across the street, and toward the lower mall of Totem Lake Malls and took off his mask.

He was arrested and charged days later.

But Knupp had a history of psychological problems and robbing banks, and was ordered to undergo a competency examination.

“The defendant was committed to the Federal Detention Center in SeaTac for the purposes of competency examination. However, for the past several weeks the defendant has been admitted in an area hospital due to his acute medical condition and need for ongoing care,” stated Feb. 13, 2013 court documents.

Knupp’s neuropsychological examination by Dr. Craig W. Beaver revealed the veteran, who was once a health care administer and policeman, now suffers from several mental disorders. These include: bipolar disorder, depression, anxiety, post traumatic stress disorder, auditory hallucinations and drug addiction, dementia and cerebrovascular disease.

After serving time in the Vietnam War, his anxiety and post traumatic stress disorder escalated. A fall in 1991 caused a blow to the head, leaving him unconscious for several hours with a seizure disorder to follow. And his several injuries accumulated over time may have been a factor in his opiate addiction, the documents state.

In 2000, Knupp was convicted of bank robbery and served about four years in prison. He was later convicted a second time and served more than 12 years.

Just before he robbed the Kirkland bank, Knupp told the psychologist conducting the exam that he started bouncing checks even though he thought he should have had enough money to cover his expenses. He said that he noticed he had odd thought processes, as well.

“For example, he notes he started telling everyone he was going to meet a woman in the mall on a particular day,” the evaluation documents state. “It was someone he had seen and he thought would be interesting, but in actuality he indicates what really was occurring is he essentially was somewhat delusional in thinking there was a woman he would meet at the mall that had money and that would help resolve some of his difficulties.”

But the documents indicate Knupp couldn’t recall robbing the Totem Lake bank, only the events that followed, which include walking out of the bank, being followed by security guards and then being arrested later at his girlfriend’s residence.

Despite his history, the psychologist deemed Knupp’s likelihood to reoffend was about 17 percent, a low risk compared to other offenders.

“In regards to the risk Mr. Knupp presence to the pubic, if and when he is allowed back out in the community, given the combination of his ratings … with his deteriorating health and his age, I would consider Mr. Knupp at low risk for re-offending in the future,” Beaver wrote in the evaluation. “He is not somebody that appears to require a significant amount of protection from the public in this regard.”

Knupp will serve out his sentence at Federal Medical Center Rochester, a federal prison in Minnesota for male inmates requiring specialized or long-term medical or mental health care.

 

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