By Amber Nolan
A Key West man who robbed a bank in Allegan County, Michigan, by claiming he had a bomb in his backpack pleaded guilty to armed robbery on Monday.
Paul Donnelly, 50, was the former controller at the Key West Citizen but lost his job in March and was escorted out of the building by police. On June 14, Donnelly walked into the PNC Bank in Plainwell, Michigan wearing a floppy fishing hat, khaki shorts, sunglasses, and sandals and passed the teller a note saying that he had a bomb in his backpack.
According to WZZM13, the teller gave him the cash (which totaled more than $4,700) and Donnelly left the “bomb-filled” backpack behind. It was later determined that there was no bomb in the bag (it was filled with clothes), but parts of downtown Plainwell, with a population of just 4,000 people, were shut down for almost three hours as four different law enforcement agencies, including the FBI, responded to the bomb threat.
The search continued for 14 hours and authorities posted photos from the bank surveillance, prompting Donnelly’s family to contact law enforcement.
According to WoodTV 8, Donnelly’s family said he was “very lost and very, very sick.” It was reported that Donnelly was in Michigan to visit a cousin, and told his family that he didn’t have the money to pay for his health care. Donnelly suffered from a reoccurring brain tumor, and his family stated that they believed the robbery was a cry for help.
Police say that Donnelly had walked nearly 8 miles and had a blood alcohol level of .24. Less than 30 minutes after the robbery, he spent nearly $300 on lottery tickets.
Donnelly is charged with armed bank robbery [18 U.S .C. 2113(a) and (d)] and is represented by a Federal public defender.
According to federal court documents filed Monday, Donnelly faces a maximum of than 25 years and/or $250,000 fine. Magistrate judge, Ray Kent, will make a report and recommendation.
7/5/18 Update: Donnelly’s sentencing hearing is set for October 29, 2018.