Federal grand jury indicts Lawrence man in bank robbery case

photo by: Lawrence Police Department

The Lawrence Police Department tweeted out these images of a man officers believe to be involved in a bank robbery on Jan. 31, 2020.

Updated at 2:10 p.m. Friday

A federal grand jury has indicted a Lawrence man in connection with a bank robbery, and the Douglas County district attorney has moved to dismiss the man’s local case.

James M. Pugh, 59, was arrested hours after a robbery was reported on Jan. 31 at Landmark National Bank, 2710 Iowa St. He was charged in Douglas County District Court with one count of robbery, a midlevel-severity felony, and criminal possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, a low-level felony.

The bank teller reportedly told police that a man had taken about $4,500 in bundled cash. The man never displayed a weapon or mentioned having one, but the teller was afraid that he might be armed, according to the police affidavit supporting Pugh’s arrest.

Pugh was identified within a few hours of the robbery after Lawrence police posted surveillance images to social media, the Journal-World has reported. He reportedly told police that he owed a “significant drug debt, which resulted in threats toward him and his wife,” so he went to a nearby bank to get money, according to the affidavit.

In an indictment dated Oct. 21, a grand jury in the U.S. District Court for the District of Kansas charged Pugh with one count of bank robbery for allegedly taking money “by force, violence and intimidation.” The indictment requests a jury trial in Kansas City, Kan.

The Douglas County DA has filed a motion to dismiss the District Court case against Pugh, trial assistant Dorothy Kliem told the Journal-World via email Friday afternoon. That case had been scheduled for a preliminary hearing next month.

Pugh has remained in custody of the Douglas County Jail on $150,000 cash or surety bond since his arrest in the early hours of Feb. 1, jail records show. As of Wednesday’s indictment, he also has a federal hold from the U.S. Marshals, according to the jail’s booking log.

According to Kansas Department of Corrections records, Pugh’s previous convictions include burglary, robbery and theft in 1992 in Sedgwick County, robbery in 2000 in Sedgwick County, and breach of privacy in 2014 in Butler County.

Contact Mackenzie Clark

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Related coverage

March 9, 2020: Man allegedly robbed Lawrence bank to end threat of drug debt, affidavit says

Feb. 3, 2020: Man charged in connection with Lawrence bank robbery

Jan. 31, 2020: Lawrence police investigate reported bank robbery, share photos of alleged suspect


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