Tuesday, July 18, 2000

Bank robbery suspect in court

Alleged 'Joe' faces federal charges

By Jane Prendergast
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        The Northern Kentucky man suspected of being the “Average Joe” serial bank robber made his first appearance Monday in federal court, where his money woes became clearer.

        Daniel Schwarberg, of Verona, was escorted into a Lexington courtroom Monday afternoon to officially be advised of the bank robbery charge against him.

        Court documents said he owes $800 a month in child support and owes the Internal Revenue Service $1,800 — down from $10,000 in 1995.

        He also owes $4,300 in car loans and has $600 in credit card debt. He earns about $38,000 as a supervisor at Comair.

        Until about a year ago, he also was paying off $15,000 in restitution from a 1994 theft conviction in Butler County.

        Mr. Schwarberg is accused of robbing a suburban Lexington branch of Bank One on July 11. He had been charged with the same robbery in state court, but officials in Lexington dropped that count Monday so a federal case could proceed.

        Bank robbery cases are almost always prosecuted by federal authorities. If he is charged with more of the 17 heists across Kentucky and Ohio attributed to Average Joe since 1998, the cases could be consolidated in federal court.

        If convicted of the single charge, Mr. Schwarberg faces 25 years in prison.

        Mr. Schwarberg, 43, who grew up on Cincinnati's west side, will remain behind bars until at least Thursday.

        Then, prosecutors and the FBI will present evidence on why he should stay in jail.

        Until then, investigators continue to try to confirm that he is Average Joe — ranked among the most prolific bank robbers sought by the FBI, said Louisville FBI spokesman David Beyer.

        The first heist believed to be committed by Average Joe took place in Crestview Hills. Only one man is accused of more bank robberies — 35 in the Pacific Northwest. Average Joe remained on the FBI “wanted” list Monday.

        Mr. Schwarberg was arrested about an hour after last week's robbery as he drove north on Interstate 75 in Scott County. He was stopped in a rented car bearing stolen license plates.

        Authorities found money in the rented Mirage, along with money wrappers labeled “Bank One.”

        The Associated Press contributed.


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