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March 29, 11

NEWS / Overland Park Man Pleads Guilty to Staged Kidnapping, Bank Robbery

KANSAS CITY, KS—One of four men charged with staging a kidnapping and bank robbery to cover up a theft by a bank employee has pleaded guilty, U.S. Attorney Barry Grissom said today.

Brendan L. Connors, 18, Overland Park, Kan., pleaded guilty today to one count of aiding and abetting embezzlement by a bank employee. In his plea, he admitted he took part in a scheme to embezzle money from the U.S. Bank at 10100 West 119th Street in Overland Park, Kan.

Agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation were called to the bank Nov. 10, 2010, in response to a report of a kidnapping and bank robbery. Grace told investigators he had been kidnapped and forced to go to the bank to get money for the robber. Grace was discovered about 7:20 a.m. in the bank. He was bound with duct tape, seated in a chair, and bleeding from the nose.

Investigators reviewed surveillance footage showing Grace being led around the empty bank by a man wearing a mask. No weapon was visible in the masked man’s hands.

During the course of the investigation, FBI agents learned that the story Grace had been kidnapped was not true. In fact, Grace and other conspirators had embezzled funds from the bank. Connors admitted:

* He was the person in surveillance footage wearing the mask.
* He and Grace used Grace’s key to the bank’s Automated Teller Machine to steal the money.
* He hit Grace in the face to make Grace look as if he had been beaten.

Connors is set for sentencing July 13. He faces a maximum penalty of 30 years in federal prison and a fine up to $250,000.

Co-defendants in the case are:

* Michael Grace, 20, Overland Park, Kan., who is set for a change of plea hearing April 4.
* David Batson, 20, Overland Park, Kan., who is set for a change of plea hearing March 30.
* Jacob McWhirt, 28, Overland Park, Kan., who is set for a change of plea hearing March 30.

Grissom commended the FBI, the Overland Park Police Department, and Assistant U.S. Attorney Scott Rask for their work on the case.




AnnaMaria Realbuto
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