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By Bob Uphues
A man wearing a brown trench coat and using a black scarf to conceal his face robbed the TCF Bank inside the Jewel-Osco store at 7201 24th St. in North Riverside on Dec. 27, making off with an undisclosed amount of cash.
The FBI has released surveillance camera photos of the man, who is shown wearing a black ski mask on top of his head and appears to have handed the teller a small red gift bag to put the money in.
North Riverside Police Chief Anthony Garvey said the man walked into the store about 7:30 p.m., approached the teller and implied he had some sort of weapon, which he did not display. After being handed the money, the man left the store through the east entrance.
About 9:30 p.m., Berwyn police reported finding a brown trench coat, a ski mask and a black scarf inside a dumpster behind the Cermak Plaza, just across Harlem Avenue from Jewel-Osco.
Police also took photographs of tires tracks found on the ground near the dumpster, according to Garvey. All of the evidence was turned over to the FBI, which has taken over the investigation.
Bank branch a robbery magnet
The TCF branch inside the North Riverside Jewel-Osco store has been robbed seven times since 2002. It was last robbed in March 2012, allegedly by a 59-year-old woman who was caught by police on Harlem Avenue as she drove away from the scene.
Sharletta Shepard, as part of a deal with prosecutors, pleaded guilty to one count of bank robbery on Oct. 17, 2012. She reportedly made off with $712 from the North Riverside TCF Bank branch on March 21, 2012, just a day after she reportedly robbed another TCF Bank branch at 1220 S. Ashland Ave. in Chicago of $831. She has several previous convictions for theft, according to federal court documents.
She faces up to 57 months' imprisonment, according to court records. Shepard remains under electronic home monitoring and is awaiting a sentencing date.
Meanwhile, a man sentenced last October to 41 months in prison for robbing the North Riverside TCF Bank branch in March 2011 has appealed the sentence and is awaiting a ruling from the U.S. Court of Appeals.
Ronald Townsend, 45, of Orland Park, remains held at the Metropolitan Correctional Center in Chicago. His attorney had argued Townsend should be sentenced to no more than 24 months in prison for robbing the North Riverside bank, citing "extreme emotional distress resulting from a financial crisis that saw Mr. Townsend in the midst of losing both his home and marriage."