The Biggest Bank Robbery in Michigan History
It was Michigan's biggest bank robbery. It did not take place during the Roaring 20’s, Prohibition, or even the 1800s. It took place in late summer 1991.
A new movie had just premiered across the country, “Point Break” starring Patrick Swayze about a group of guys who heist a bank, hiding their identities by wearing Halloween masks of United States presidents.
That’s all the impetus this particular group of Chicago guys needed to rob a bank of their own. They decided not to rob a bank in their home state of Illinois, so they got masks of Ronald Reagan and Richard Nixon, went across the Great Lake, and picked a bank in Saugatuck, Michigan. In fact, it was the only bank in Saugatuck.
This group was led by Bobby ‘The Beak’ Siegel, cousin of one of the most infamous mobsters of the 1940’s, Bugsy Siegel. A phone call was made to the local police department, claiming there was a traffic accident they should check out. While the police were rushing to the scene of an imaginary accident, the boys felt confident in their holdup scheme, now that the police force was off on a wild goose chase.
According to one of the tellers as reported in ABC7 Chicago, “Three men came dashing through the front door and pushed me onto the floor, and the other two men grabbed the other bank officer and took him into the vault". They got away with $360,000.
Fast-forward to 1994, when Siegel, getaway-car driver Carmine Jannece (in a car stolen in Holland) and the other two holdup men were indicted for that crime and other robberies in Florida. Jannece was the only one that managed to escape arrest.
Jannece moved back to his hometown of Chicago, changed his last name and lived peacefully for 14 years…..that is, until he went to renew his driver’s license and got busted.
In July 2008, eighty-year-old Jannese was sentenced to five years in prison. He had successfully – and spent - his share of the stolen loot (which came to $60,000) while living comfortably from 1991-2008.
So far, it remains the biggest bank robbery in Michigan history.
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