Suspected serial bank robber faces federal charges

Michael Stathas
Michael Stathas

Kettering, Washington Twp. banks hit within days of each other.

A convicted bank robber and suspect in recent bank robberies in Kettering and Washington Twp. has been charged in federal court, according to law enforcement sources.

Michael J. Stathas, 33, was arrested Thursday and booked into Montgomery County Jail on a federal detainer. On Friday, Stathas was charged in Dayton’s U.S. District Court on bank robbery charges after the FBI joined the investigation, sources said.

Police said Stathas robbed the Key Bank at 20 W. Whipp Rd. in Washington Twp. at about 1:10 p.m. Thursday. Witnesses said Stathas’ car was backed into an area that was not an actual parking spot near the bank’s door and that his car door was open.

A bank employee said the suspect pushed her down and was wearing a blue ski mask, a blue shirt and blue jeans. A sheriff’s office report indicated $1,134 was stolen, but that an employee was able to push her panic button while the suspect was taking money.

Stathas was arrested shortly after he wrecked his car near Ohio 741 and East Dixie Drive in Moraine and fled on foot. Cruiser cam footage from the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office showed Stathas driving erratically and law enforcement following him. Deputies said they could track Stathas because the bank teller put a GPS device in the stolen money.

Sheriff’s Office Sgt. M.D. Hutchison said some witnesses actually followed Stathas’ vehicle and that deputies had set up a perimeter and saw the vehicle crash twice.

“Some witnesses had observed what had happened, a bank robbery, and gave us a real good description of the suspect and the vehicle he fled in,” Hutchison said. “It was a collaborated effort between the people at the bank giving us a good description and also witnesses and the public who pointed us in the right direction.”

Police sources also say Stathas is suspected of robbing the Fifth Third Bank at 4120 Far Hills Ave. in Kettering on Dec. 23 after calling in bomb threats late that afternoon at the Kettering Rec Center and a Kroger on Dorothy Lane.

An anonymous caller told a 911 dispatcher that he put bombs at both locations. “Do not mess around,” the caller said. “You better get to them.”

Witnesses said in the Dec. 23. robbery that a man wearing a black ski mask and black hoodie, wielding a can of pepper spray, entered the bank and left with an undisclosed amount of money.

Police say Stathas also attempted to rob the same Fifth Third on Tuesday but didn’t get any money.

Asked why a robber would try to hit the same bank twice in a matter of days, Kettering police Lt. Michael Gabrielson said: “Unfortunately, this time of year bank robberies do actually go up in the holiday season.”

Stathas served nearly a year in prison for robbing the same Fifth Third bank in November 2014, according to Ohio Dept. of Rehabilitation and Correction records.

Stathas was in prison from Jan. 27, 2015, until Nov. 27, 2015, and was released from post-release control on Dec. 1, 2016. ODRC records show Stathas also served two years in prison from December 2006 to December 2008 for failure to comply.

Stathas was ordered to restitution of $924.91 to Fifth Third in his 2014 case, according to Montgomery County Common Pleas Court records. He did not display a weapon in that case.

Stathas was eligible for a transitional control program for the 2014 case, but Judge Dennis Langer did not approve it, stating that Stathas’ admission into that program “would demean the seriousness of this offense.”