FBI arrests 'Straw Hat Bandit' in 11 suburban bank robberies

Richard Boyle swore off bank robbery nearly a decade ago when a Bucks County judge sent him to prison for a two-year suburban crime spree.

But, federal authorities now say, the 57-year-old Doylestown man never quite kicked the habit.

According to an indictment filed Thursday, Boyle launched a new run of robberies, hitting 11 banks in Bucks and Montgomery Counties, less than a year after his release in 2011 from a state correctional facility.

Donning distinctive disguises that earned him the nickname the “Straw Hat Bandit,” he managed to steal nearly a half-million dollars between 2012 and 2016 and laundered the funds through an aerial photography business he ran out of his home.

Boyle, a soft-spoken man with hunched shoulders and thick-framed black glasses, dressed in a wrinkled blue button-down shirt, said little during a brief appearance in federal court Thursday.

Facing a similar situation in 2008, he vowed he would change his ways.

“I want to say I’m sorry to everybody – to the victims, the court and my family. I wish I could have made better choices,” he told Judge Jeffrey L. Finley as he was sentenced to 3½ to 10 years in a state prison for an earlier set of eight robberies across the same region.

He was arrested in October on a probation violation after FBI agents and local police linked him to the more recent bank heists.

It was not clear Thursday whether Boyle had retained an attorney. But during his 2008 sentencing hearing, his then-lawyer, Craig Penglase, described him as a deeply troubled man who had succumbed to emotional instability after he stopped taking prescribed medication due to the death of his psychiatrist.

Around the same time, Boyle lost a $250,000-a-year job selling supplies to orthopedic surgeons and impulsively took his family on a two-year trek to various cities across the country, where they made their livings doing odd jobs, Penglase said, according to court transcripts.

Asked back then what he had done with the stolen cash, Boyle told the judge he used it to pay off mounting bills.

But since his first incarceration, those debts have continued to grow. Boyle was ordered as part of his sentence to repay the $102,000 he stole during his first crime spree.

One of the banks he robbed, Huntingdon Valley Bank in Warwick Township, secured a $40,000 judgment against him in 2008 to cover the cash he stole.

He now faces 21 counts of bank robbery, firearms violations, and money laundering.

Boyle remains in federal custody pending a detention hearing scheduled for Monday afternoon. 

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