“True Patriot” Sentenced to Prison for String of Politically Motivated Bank Robberies

via The Seattle Times patrick-henry1

TACOMA — When Michael Fenter was arrested coming out of a Tacoma bank last fall with $73,000 in a bag and a gun at his hip, just about everyone had the same question: “Why?”

A marine carpenter who, with his wife, had realized a longtime dream to run a Port Townsend farm, Fenter had no criminal record, no drug problem and no clear motive. In letters to the court, friends and family called him “honest,” “gracious,” “wholesome” and “gentle.” They knew nothing of his secret life.

He pleaded guilty in March to robbing four banks in Seattle, Tacoma and California and possession of a firearm during a crime of violence.

Calling it “one of the most perplexing cases” he’s ever considered, U.S. District Court Judge Benjamin Settle sentenced Fenter on Monday to 10 years in prison, and ordered him to make restitution to the banks. He walked away with $86,000 from the first three robberies, and that money has never been accounted for.

Fenter set out on his crime spree well-prepared, said Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Jerry Costello, adding, “there was no indication he was going to stop.”

When Fenter was arrested last fall after robbing a Tacoma bank of $73,000, his fingertips were covered in glue so he would not leave fingerprints. He told bank employees that he was carrying explosives, and even showed one teller a device with a circuit board and wires that looked like a bomb. Authorities later determined the device contained a blasting cap, a small but dangerous explosive device.

During the robberies, Fenter told bank employees that he was angry about the government bailout of banks. He said he was taking the money to give to people who needed it, according to court documents — though when asked about it by authorities he declined to provide details.

Upon his arrest, he said his name was “Patrick Henry,” a Revolutionary War-era governor famous for his “Give me liberty or give me death!” speech.

One Bank of America employee said at Friday’s sentencing hearing in Tacoma that she thinks about the robbery everyday and her heart races.

“He’s a terrorist,” she said.

Speaking publicly about the crimes for the first time, Fenter told the judge, “I honestly did not know how it was going to affect other people.” He said he has since come to realize he terrified the bank employees, and devastated his friends and family.

“All I want to do is make amends,” he said.

As for the question why? Fenter said robbing banks wasn’t to get money for himself or his family. Instead, he did it because he was a “true patriot.” The money, he said, went to fund that cause.

“What I am for is real justice, real truth, and real accountability within our system of government,” he said. “The money was used and is probably currently being used to get to the truth.”

He did not make clear who was using the money — though he emphasized it was being used in a “peaceful” way. Nor did he say what, exactly, he hoped to learn.

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15 Responses to “True Patriot” Sentenced to Prison for String of Politically Motivated Bank Robberies

  1. Hickory Stonewall July 10, 2013 at 2:04 pm #

    The FBI did not agree, 10 years is long enough to make someone think they could do that standing on their head

  2. Hickory Stonewall July 10, 2013 at 2:04 pm #

    The FBI did not agree, 10 years is long enough to make someone think they could do that standing on their head

  3. downwithsplc July 10, 2013 at 3:54 pm #

    All the dirtbags that work at Bank of America and other scab banks should be terrorized. No sympathy for the biatch who is whining about being scared when fenter made her pee her panties. She deserved that and much more.

    • gustave courbet July 11, 2013 at 10:52 am #

      You’re confusing the ignorant but well meaning employees of a massive institution who make hourly wages and are trying to keep up with their bills with their bosses who gleefully commit every kind of fraud imaginable. I’m reminded of people who berate a sales clerk because they don’t like a company’s policy.

      • Rhoid Rager July 11, 2013 at 9:24 pm #

        Well, I wouldn’t berate a sales clerk because of a company’s policy, but there is certainly truth to the fact of distributed responsibility. Arendt’s ‘banality of evil’ is a good reminder.

        • gustave courbet July 12, 2013 at 2:15 pm #

          I absolutely agree. It is a difficult moral and intellectual quandary about where responsibility lies when we all participate (willingly or not) in large institutions. I work in a low income environment with working class and politically ignorant people who are ethical if naive. What would be their culpability in working for a company like B of A or other ethically bankrupt institutions? What are my mine for paying taxes that fund unethical behavior?

          • Rhoid Rager July 13, 2013 at 7:34 pm #

            I think beginning to grapple with questions like these is a good sign, in itself. Of course, the only action we can take is one of a personal nature. To try to ‘fight the system’, or ‘change people’s minds’ is only symbolic and ultimately ineffectual in this reality. The only thing we can change is ourselves. It becomes much easier to do so after we realize the effect we are having on our surroundings. Sorry to speak in such obscure generalities.

          • gustave courbet July 15, 2013 at 11:11 am #

            Some subjects require obscure generalities. I agree with you wholeheartedly.

  4. downwithsplc July 10, 2013 at 3:54 pm #

    All the dirtbags that work at Bank of America and other scab banks should be terrorized. No sympathy for the biatch who is whining about being scared when fenter made her pee her panties. She deserved that and much more.

  5. ManwithnoCountry July 10, 2013 at 9:37 pm #

    Go Fentner!

  6. Rhoid Rager July 10, 2013 at 10:56 pm #

    What a sick system. I’d do the same as Fentner, but alas we have to give up family and friends to sacrifice for a cause that all of society is ostensibly against. I hope his knowledge of the shameless fraud of the public by the mere existence of banks assuages his guilt towards his family and the fear he caused people in the process. Our principles are all we have now. What an upside down world.

    • Monkey See Monkey Do July 11, 2013 at 5:10 am #

      And its always good to remember that our human principles require both inductive and deductive reasoning.

      • Rhoid Rager July 11, 2013 at 5:15 am #

        There’s nothing reasonable about induction. ;)

        • Monkey See Monkey Do July 12, 2013 at 8:01 am #

          The either-or club severely limits rational discourse.

          • Rhoid Rager July 12, 2013 at 8:22 am #

            It’s not a choice of either or, because induction isn’t even real. It’s a mythical epistemological goal, the posts of which are shifted everytime we observe something different than the last thing. That’s what Hume was saying, and that’s what Popper said. Induction is a convenient myth held onto by an entrenched scientific elite.

            This is a bit of a far cry from the original thread. ;)

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