by Caitlin Huston
A 66-year-old Twelve Mile man pleaded guilty in Cass Superior Court II Tuesday to the robbery of a local bank in November 2011.
The plea comes one day before his jury trial was scheduled.
Michael Ridenour was arrested Nov. 3, 2011 after he reportedly donned a Halloween mask and held bank tellers at gunpoint at Community State Bank the day before. Ridenour pleaded guilty Tuesday to armed robbery, a class B felony, and could face between six to 20 years in prison.
Ridenour said in court Tuesday that he entered the Twelve Mile bank wearing a Halloween mask with long, black hair and brandishing a 25 Otto pistol. He also said he demanded money, which police records total at $3,267, before leaving the bank.
Asked by his attorney Pat Roberts, Ridenour clarified that the gun did not have bullets in it.
“It wasn’t loaded,” Ridenour said.
Ridenour reportedly was not a bank client, but lived across the street from the bank, according to police reports.
The plea agreement states that Ridenour’s sentence will be decided at his Feb. 25 sentencing hearing when both parties will argue for a sentence in the class B felony bracket. Class B felonies carry a penalty of six to 20 years in prison and up to a $10,000 fine.
In an interview, Roberts said he and Cass County Chief Deputy Prosecutor Lisa Swaim had been working on the plea since December, but could not agree on a sentence.
“We could not come to an agreement as to what the punishment should be,” Roberts said.
Therefore, he said Cass Superior Court II Judge Rick Maughmer will make the final decision on the sentence.
Swaim said the state will return the money they had kept as evidence back to the bank. Roberts said he believed the state had the majority of the $3,267 in evidence, but not all of the money.
“We believe it exceeds $3,000,” Roberts said.
Swaim said in an interview that Ridenour reportedly spent some of the money before it was recovered, so they do not have an exact amount yet of the total money he owes.
“The defendant actually had used the money to purchase something,” Swaim said.
Ridenour will be required to pay the remaining amount of the stolen money to the bank under the plea agreement.
In exchange for the plea, Swaim agreed to drop the charges of criminal confinement armed with a deadly weapon, a class B felony, theft, a class D felony, and pointing a firearm at another person (firearm un-loaded), a class A misdemeanor.
Ridenour had a jury trial scheduled today, but the trial was lifted after the plea agreement was filed Tuesday.
Sentencing is required to occur within 30 days of the plea. Roberts said they waived the sentencing period because Ridenour may have to undergo surgery in the next 30 days.
“We would waive the 30 day sentencing period,” Roberts said.
Before the sentencing, Maughmer ordered Ridenour to undergo a pre-sentence investigation. He said he would take the plea under advisement.
Roberts said he believed the sentencing would take about two hours.
Caitlin Huston is a staff reporter of the Pharos-Tribune. She can be reached at 574-732-5148 or email@example.com.