Bismarck, ND | A blind man was found guilty of participating in 22 bank robberies, mainly as a chauffeur for two of his accomplices.
The band of criminals robbed an estimated 22 banks in the region in the past 8 years, although they may have robbed more believe authorities.
The 67-year-old man, who is visually impaired at 90%, primarily acted as a chauffeur for his accomplices and used a GPS system to guide him orally through traffic, telling him when to turn and when to stop.
“His two accomplices would proceed to rob the bank, as he would stay behind and wait for them to come back. Since he was blind, he could park in the handicapped zones which didn’t raise suspicions,” explained his lawyer in court.
John Lee, the blind man’s lawyer, says he will appeal the judgement as his client “was visually unaware” of the bank heists as he is “technically blind”
Unable to drive
When asked by the judge why he drove the car when he had such poor eyesight he explained he was the only one who could do the job.
Both of his accomplices could not drive the car he explained in court, one of them being hyperallergic to leather and could not hold the steering wheel without developing a severe skin rash and the other accomplice “was just too scared to drive” after a traumatic bicycle incident during his youth, he told the judge.
Alan Shell had previously been a bank manager for 22 years before losing his eyesight after developing a tumor in his brain, damaging his optical nerves, and making it impossible for him to practice his job anymore.
Mr. Shell admitted in court that after becoming visually disabled and losing his job, he became extremely bitter and started planning bank heists with two accomplices he recruited.
Judge Herbert Blackmore sentenced the man to 72 years in jail for planning and elaborately orchestrating the robberies as well as for participating as a chauffeur for the band of criminals.