Thursday 19 October 2017

Love hurts as girlfriend turns in Dublin-born 'Ho Hum Bandit

Donal Lynch

Donal Lynch

AFTER two years on the run, a place on the FBI's most wanted list, and a manhunt that spread across the West Coast of the US, in the end it was the love of woman that did the Ho Hum Bandit in.

When 34-year-old Dublin man Adam Lynch met his long-time girlfriend, Julia Lundstrom, at an Irish bar in downtown Denver on April 18 he knew part of making a go of things with her would be paying her back the money he owed her. They had quarrelled over money before, and he wanted to keep the relationship going.

He paid her back $6,000 (€4,250) on the spot, but according to investigators she didn't believe his stories that he had come up with the money through selling stocks and bonds. She was suspicious and pressed him for more information.

It was at that point, Denver police say, that Lynch, who has been in the US for 16 years, decided to come clean. He begged her to stay with him and tearfully confessed to her that he was the notorious 'Ho Hum Bandit' -- an infamous bank robber who was so nicknamed because of his insouciant manner while carrying out the robberies.

"He showed her the FBI website on his cell phone and showed her his picture and that he was wanted for bank robbery," Tom Acierno, a sheriff in the Denver area said this week. "She tried to keep calm and keep him there."

With Lynch waiting inside the bar Lundstrom slipped out the door and called police.

"She told them 'I am sitting here with a bank robber and he has done all of these robberies in Colorado and Denver,'" Acierno said.

Lynch was arrested in the bar in the early hours of April 19. He is charged in the US District court in Denver with bank robbery and suspected of robbing 10 banks in Colorado, 12 in California, one in Wyoming and one in Washington State.

He has pleaded not guilty to all charges. A trial date is set for June 27. Lynch faces up to 20 years in prison if convicted. His lawyer, Brian Leedy, did not return a request for comment on the case.

Lynch went to the US from Dublin 16 years ago after winning a Green Card in the lottery. He moved to Corte Madera, a wealthy suburb of San Francisco with his then wife, and the couple ran a successful dog-walking business.

Several years later Lynch divorced his wife, moved to San Diego and began a new relationship with Julia Lundstrom. He wooed her by taking her on several lavish holidays abroad, including one trip to Egypt and another back to his native Dublin.

They moved back to Denver with her job, but as time passed it seemed Lynch was not paying for his half of the couple's living expenses. "She confronted him and said, 'You owe me $11,000,'" Acierno said. The two split up, but Lynch tried to get back in her good books by depositing $6,000 into her bank account, Acierno added. Lundstrom was instantly suspicious as to how he got the money, and didn't believe his story that he had earned it trading stocks and bonds.

According to Acierno, she also got into his email, and discovered he was in contact with an ex-girlfriend, and that he had lied about the purpose of some of his visits to California. The reward for information leading to his capture was $10,000.

The footage of Lynch showed him yawning and shrugging as he robbed banks in Denver. Much of the time he appeared bored. According to experts, however, Lynch would have been feeling more than he was showing. "This is a classic example of a bank robber hooked on it (the adrenalin rush of stealing)," said FBI Special Agent Phil Niedringhaus. "He had a job and was successful. He was living near Coors Field in an expensive apartment. He wouldn't have stopped until he got caught."

Lynch did not have a criminal record before his arrest, and according to the Denver Post his brother works as a policeman. Niedringhaus added that sometimes people who rob banks don't believe they'll ever get caught.

"They don't watch that part of the movie," he said.

Sunday Independent

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